About 75 frustrated doctors staged a pre-sunrise walkout on Monday from several southern Florida hospitals to call out people who are refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and are overwhelming the health care system, making their work nearly unendurable.
“We are exhausted. Our patience and resources are running low,“ internal medicine specialist Rupesh Dharia said at a news conference during the action representing hospitals in Palm Beach County.
Jupiter Medical Center emergency room doctor Ethan Chapin lamented the “number of people that I’m going to see today who I don’t need to, who don’t need to be there, who shouldn’t have been there in the first place if they’d taken the simple advice of getting vaccinated.”
Chapin added: “All we’re asking is, in the same way you trusted us to take care of you, your family, your friends, trust us now in what we’re telling you: The vaccine is safe, and it can save your life.”
Infectious disease specialist Leslie Diaz emphasized: “The science is there. The clinical trials are in abundance, and we must stop denying the data .... The vaccine still remains the most effective and reliable way to stop this madness.”
The doctors spoke out shortly before the Food and Drug Administration granted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine full approval.
More than 150,000 people in Florida tested positive for COVID-19 in the week that ended Friday as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to battle mask mandates and refused to push for vaccinations.
People sick with COVID-19 are overwhelming hospitals, with many facilities completely out of available space in intensive care units, jeopardizing not only the health of those with the coronavirus but also the patients who have other life-threatening illnesses and emergencies.
Close to 17,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state as of Sunday, with the majority in South Florida. Of those patients, 53% were in ICUs.
Unvaccinated people ages 18 and 64 are driving the overwhelming hospital load — and then are express regret from their ICU beds, according to the physicians.
“This has been a real crisis, a real state of emergency,” said Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center Chief of Staff Jose Deolazabal, a pulmonologist, who added that he is now treating a younger population — and “predominantly unvaccinated.” For “all the care in the world, let me tell you, prevention is everything,” he said, urging everyone to get vaccinated.
It is “so frustrating to all of us,” said neurologist Jennifer Buczyner. “Many of these patients have decided not to get vaccinated, but when they’re hospitalized, they tell us they wish they had. This emergency is so much bigger than all of us. It’s about your parents, your children, your grandparents and our community.”
Check out the full news conference below: