Inside the ICU: Nurses say COVID patients express 'remorse' as beds fill before holidays

Posted at 9:08 PM, Dec 14, 2021

(WXYZ) — Michigan hospitals this month hit a pandemic high when it comes to the daily number of COVID-19 patients seeking care.

According to the state, right now more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients are fighting for their lives in Michigan Intensive Care Units. Emergency departments in Michigan are seeing more than 2,000 COVID patients a day.


The President of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland says she believes it is important to let the community know when the hospital is at a critical point. That is why she gave 7 Action News Reporter Kim Russell an exclusive look inside the hospital where they are raising concerns they say the community needs to hear.

On Tuesday, the hospital had 78 COVID-19 positive patients.

A look inside St. Joseph Mercy Oakland on the COVID-19 floor.

“We are at capacity and have been at capacity,” said Shannon Striebich, President of St Joseph Mercy Oakland & Sr. VP Operations for Trinity Health Michigan.

She says leaders are having three meetings a day to ensure they can continue scheduled surgeries and handle the continuous flow of COVID-19 patients into the ER.

She is calling on the community to vaccinate, socially distance and mask up in the coming days, so there are no regrets.

“To have a full ICU, a week before Christmas, it is concerning. It is really concerning,” said Striebich.


“I would say we are feeling very frustrated, burned out,” said Claire Diaz, an ICU Nurse.

Almost all the critically ill patients in the designated COVID wing of the ICU are unvaccinated.

A look inside St. Joseph Mercy Oakland on the COVID-19 floor.

“With the unvaccinated cases, we are seeing that it is much harder for them to come off the vent. And at times they are on the highest settings and their body, in terms of organs, they start depending more and more and once they reach that point it is hard to wean them off because of how sick they can be,” said Diaz.

“We feel like we are drowning,” said Dana Nowacki, an Emergency Room Nurse.

During our tour we saw beds of numerous patients lining the halls of the emergency room. The patients in the hall do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but are experiencing the impact of the pandemic. They often have to wait to be admitted.

A look inside St. Joseph Mercy Oakland on the COVID-19 floor.

“We started our day with almost 30 people that have been in the ER since yesterday. That are waiting for rooms upstairs that are not available. And then we still have people coming in the door,” said Nowacki.

Hospital staff are urging the public to respond to the situation in local hospitals by vaccinating, masking, and social distancing.

“A common thing that we see in the ER with those patients is remorse and regret. They wish they would have gotten their vaccine. They wish they would have gotten their boosters. They wish they would have worn their mask. They didn’t think COVID was real and now they are basically dying of it. They want to go back to a time when they could do something about it. And now it is too late,” said Nowacki.

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