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'Had that person been vaccinated, they would not have died': Boise ICU director details serious nature of current COVID-19 situation

Dr. Meghan McInerney, the ICU Medical Director at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, detailed the daily battle frontline health workers are seeing.

BOISE, Idaho — As Idaho sees an increasing number of new COVID-19 cases and admission to the hospital and intensive care unit (ICU), healthcare workers continue a battle that has lasted nearly 16 months. 

Dr. Meghan McInerney, the ICU Medical Director at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, and her staff face serious challenges every day while working to treat people who are greatly affected by COVID-19. Recently, there is a commonality between ICU patients.

“Every single patient in the ICU with COVID is not vaccinated, and our ICU is full. It is totally full. We have patients constantly needing to board in the emergency department," McInerney said. "This is the case for the whole hospital. Unfortunately, we don't have any beds available, so patients are needing to board in the emergency department."

Frontline medical workers say they see similarities between now and a year ago, which is concerning to many. McInerney said the similarities between this time last year and the present are incredibly frustrating.

"Every patient that I see who comes in and needs to be put on a ventilator because they have COVID, It's hard not to think to myself, 'This didn't need to happen,'” McInerney said. “It is a preventable illness at this point. We are not seeing as many people in the greater than 65 age range coming in with COVID, we're seeing younger patients now. I have a patient now who is 31 years old sick with COVID, a patient who's 35 years old with COVID in the ICU, and both of those patients did not get vaccinated.”

Some patients currently in the ICU regret not getting a vaccine and say they really wish they had. Others, according to McInerney, are not on the same page.

“We are so frustrated and saddened by the fact that they still feel so strongly about not getting the vaccine and yet they're at risk of dying in our ICU because of a preventable illness," she said. "I’m tearful at times because you feel like, 'What am I doing I'm standing here trying to get somebody who is at risk of dying from this and they're still telling me that it's not real?' I had somebody say that to me. And yes, we've had some really sad cases, people who were young, die. We had a 37-year-old die yesterday from COVID. Again, preventable. Had that person been vaccinated, they would not have died. And I believe that very strongly.”

In terms of a message to the community, especially people denying the serious nature of the virus and its variants, McInerney wants to strongly encourage everyone who can to get the vaccine.

“For those of people who saw me in December last year when I got the vaccine, I was on cloud nine because I knew that that was our exit point. That was the only way that we could get to a point where we don't have to deal with these kinds of sad cases anymore," she said. "So, it's not over. We're in a different phase of it, we know what to do about it and I just would beg our community to do what we know what we'd need to do and follow the science.".

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