Alabama Man Dies After 43 Hospitals with Full ICUs Allegedly Turn Him Away

The family of Ray Martin DeMonia, who died from heart issues, is now urging people to get vaccinated after hospitals filled with COVID patients struggled to find him an open ICU bed

An Alabama man has died after allegedly not being able to receive medical attention at over 40 different hospitals as the health centers were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, according to his obituary.

Last month, Ray Martin DeMonia suffered a cardiac event and was taken to Cullman Regional Medical Center in his hometown of Cullman, Alabama. However, his family says he could not be treated as the hospital was over-capacity with cases related to COVID-19.

Emergency personnel at the Cullman Regional Medical Center then began searching for a cardiac ICU bed in the area. After allegedly being turned away from 43 hospitals in three states, DeMonia was transferred about 200 miles away from Cullman to Rush Foundation Hospital in Mississippi, his obituary states.

A spokesperson for Cullman Regional Medical Center initially declined to confirm or deny that the number of COVID cases at the hospital was the reason DeMonia was transferred. Later, the spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement, "Mr. DeMonia was admitted to the Cullman Regional Emergency Department and was transferred because he required a level of specialty care not offered by Cullman Regional. He was not denied admittance due to our hospital being 'over-capacity with cases related to COVID-19.' "

Rush Foundation Hospital did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

On Sept. 1, DeMonia died — just three days before his 74th birthday.

Now, DeMonia's family is urging people to get vaccinated in hopes of limiting the strain on hospitals and ensuring non COVID-related patients are able to receive care.

Ray Demonia

"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 read. "Due to COVID 19, CRMC emergency staff contacted 43 hospitals in 3 states in search of a Cardiac ICU bed and finally located one in Meridian, MS. He would not want any other family to go through what his did."

According to the CDC, 40.2% of people in Alabama are fully vaccinated from the coronavirus. and numbers continue to rise. However, the state is still experiencing a rapid rise in hospitalizations of unvaccinated people, causing a need for more ICU beds than the state has to offer.

"We continue to have a real crisis in Alabama with our ICU bed capacity," Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said Friday, according to the Associated Press. "Yesterday there were about 60 or so more patients requiring ICU care than we have ICU beds in the state."

In the last week, Alabama saw over 26,000 cases of COVID and 259 deaths, the CDC reports.

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