Oklahoma City man dies after heart attack in New Mexico, no ICU bed

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An Oklahoma City native is sharing her story of trying to find an intensive care unit bed for her father. She said their family vacation quickly turned into their worst nightmare.Ken Early, of Oklahoma City, and his family were in Taos, New Mexico, for vacation when he had a heart attack in the middle of a supermarket there.“I saw my mother kind of flagging me down, and my father, I could see, on the floor,” Elizabeth Kolliopoulos said. Kolliopoulos rushed over to her father.“I immediately went in and did CPR,” Kolliopoulos said. The ambulance arrived and rushed Early to the local hospital, but all quickly realized that the rural hospital didn’t have the capabilities to care for Early’s dire condition.“The idea was, ‘Let’s get him Medivaced to Oklahoma City.’ That’s what we had to do. No hospital rooms. Not one ICU bed that could take my dad,” Kolliopoulos said. They tried other states.“They looked in New Mexico, not a single hospital bed, ICU, that could take my father. In Kansas, nothing. In Arizona, nothing. In Texas, nothing,” Kolliopoulos said.His condition started to worsen as he started getting a fever.>> COVID-19 in Oklahoma: New cases, deaths, breakthrough cases, vaccination rates“The doctor just came into the room with that look on her face where you just know, you know. That it’s bad news,” Kolliopoulos said.Early, a beloved husband and father, a retired CPA who loved to travel and wear funny socks died in Taos, New Mexico.“It’s heartbreaking to me. I just feel like we’re in some sort of human crisis,” Kolliopoulos said. “Because people will not get vaccinated and because people will not wear their masks this happened to our family.”In the past month, according to the state health department, more than 90% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were not fully vaccinated.>> Did you know? How to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Oklahoma“My father was vaccinated. My mother was vaccinated. My husband and I, we’re all vaccinated,” Kolliopoulos said.Kolliopoulos said taking COVID-19 precautions could also be freeing up a hospital bed for someone else like her dad.“If you care about your neighbor, if you care about your parents your grandparents. Please just get vaccinated,” Kolliopoulos said. “Maybe my father would have died anyway. Maybe he would’ve died in Oklahoma, but he would have died in Oklahoma.”As of Wednesday night, out of all four major hospital systems in the metro, there are three available ICU beds. We asked all of the hospitals about the current state. SSM Health officials said it’s not uncommon to have 50 transfer requests on their waiting list and more than two dozen holding in the emergency room.

An Oklahoma City native is sharing her story of trying to find an intensive care unit bed for her father. She said their family vacation quickly turned into their worst nightmare.

Ken Early, of Oklahoma City, and his family were in Taos, New Mexico, for vacation when he had a heart attack in the middle of a supermarket there.

“I saw my mother kind of flagging me down, and my father, I could see, on the floor,” Elizabeth Kolliopoulos said.

Kolliopoulos rushed over to her father.

“I immediately went in and did CPR,” Kolliopoulos said.

The ambulance arrived and rushed Early to the local hospital, but all quickly realized that the rural hospital didn’t have the capabilities to care for Early’s dire condition.

“The idea was, ‘Let’s get him Medivaced to Oklahoma City.’ That’s what we had to do. No hospital rooms. Not one ICU bed that could take my dad,” Kolliopoulos said.

They tried other states.

“They looked in New Mexico, not a single hospital bed, ICU, that could take my father. In Kansas, nothing. In Arizona, nothing. In Texas, nothing,” Kolliopoulos said.

His condition started to worsen as he started getting a fever.

>> COVID-19 in Oklahoma: New cases, deaths, breakthrough cases, vaccination rates

“The doctor just came into the room with that look on her face where you just know, you know. That it’s bad news,” Kolliopoulos said.

Early, a beloved husband and father, a retired CPA who loved to travel and wear funny socks died in Taos, New Mexico.

“It’s heartbreaking to me. I just feel like we’re in some sort of human crisis,” Kolliopoulos said. “Because people will not get vaccinated and because people will not wear their masks this happened to our family.”

In the past month, according to the state health department, more than 90% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were not fully vaccinated.

>> Did you know? How to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Oklahoma

“My father was vaccinated. My mother was vaccinated. My husband and I, we’re all vaccinated,” Kolliopoulos said.

Kolliopoulos said taking COVID-19 precautions could also be freeing up a hospital bed for someone else like her dad.

“If you care about your neighbor, if you care about your parents your grandparents. Please just get vaccinated,” Kolliopoulos said. “Maybe my father would have died anyway. Maybe he would’ve died in Oklahoma, but he would have died in Oklahoma.”

As of Wednesday night, out of all four major hospital systems in the metro, there are three available ICU beds. We asked all of the hospitals about the current state. SSM Health officials said it’s not uncommon to have 50 transfer requests on their waiting list and more than two dozen holding in the emergency room.



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