Man dies after 43 hospitals turned him away in COVID surge, family says

A 73-year-old Alabama man died of a “cardiac event” after being turned away from dozens of hospitals across three states that had no available cardiac ICU beds, his family said. They’re now urging people to get vaccinated to “free up resources for non COVID related emergencies” as the virus continues to surge in Alabama and other states.

Ray DeMonia, an antiques dealer who ran his own store for four decades, died on September 1, three days before his 74th birthday, relatives said in an obituary.  

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Ray DeMonia Dignity Memorial

They said emergency staff at Cullman Regional Medical Center contacted 43 hospitals in three states in search of a cardiac ICU bed for DeMonia. On Monday, Jennifer Malone, a hospital spokesperson, confirmed that DeMonia was a patient at Cullman Regional Medical Center and told CBS News that “he needed medical services that were not available” at the hospital. 

Finally, his family said, the hospital transferred him to Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, about 200 miles away from his home, where he later died.

Over the last few months, hospitals in Alabama and nearby states like Texas, Mississippi. Louisiana and Florida have been struggling to handle the growing number of COVID-19 patients, often running low on beds and staffing. 

With just over 40% of Alabama’s population fully vaccinated, among the lowest rates in the country, DeMonia’s family said they hoped more people would consider getting the shot after hearing about their experience. 

“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies,” DeMonia’s obituary said. 

“He would not want any other family to go through what his did.”

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