After a two-week separation in late September, Sherry Cohen was eager to see her mother, Sandy, who was confined to a solitary confinement at the time.
Cohen, 51, rushed to a center in Washington, D.C., to see Sandy, 82, and was shocked. Her mother's right eye was swollen. An emergency visit to a corneal specialist led them to the emergency room, where they were met by hospital staff who were stunned by the coronavirus cases.
They waited for eight hours in a overcrowded hospital tent to receive eyedrops from antibacterial drugs.
"Here's the woman who needs the most attention, but everyone around you needs the most attention," Cohen said.
Three weeks later, Sandy lost his sight completely, having already lost his sight in his left eye due to glaucoma, and Cohen said he believed the perpetrator was clear. The coronavirus-infected hospital system has led to delays in care and adverse outcomes.
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It is a trend that can continue into the new year as hospitals across the country are fighting a new dangerous trend especially for uninvited people.
"It will not end if we do not stop pretending," Cohen said over the phone Wednesday.
Troubled hospitals and medical staff try to share the same warning: Long-term lack of access to medical care due to Covid surgery has a huge impact on patient care. Now, despite a short break, public hospitals around the country appear to be in a state of disarray as the latest variations of coronavirus spread.
While omicron variants are more contagious than previous strains, delays in care due to coronavirus are not new. People across the country have had to postpone much-needed procedures, surgery and treatment for about two years amidst public health emergencies. Even in the months when the case numbers were low, most people struggled to find time for appointments and consultations.
However, hospitals were beginning to return to the level of patients diagnosed in 2019, according to an October study of 100 US hospitals by strategic company McKinsey & Co. and procedures.
Gretchen Berlin, a senior partner at McKinsey who is a registered nurse, said the analysis found that the country would be facing backward by surgery until 2022 if the number of cases remained the same as before the arrival of the omicron.
He said that did not care about delays in testing, biopsies and other preventive health measures that could lead to adverse medical outcomes in humans, and did not consider how the delay affected the quality of care.
"We do not yet understand as a system the quality of what is happening in all of this," Berlin said. "I think we probably won't feel the full effect of that for several years."
For many patients and doctors, delays examine the limits of what is considered “specialized surgery” - scheduled procedures that may be important but may not be considered urgent.
This condition makes it difficult to navigate the long-term medical system.
Clarissa Silva, 48, of Birmingham, Alabama, who suffers from uterine fibroids, hopes to find some discovery between hospitals and providers in her area.
Fibroids push her colon, causing severe pain, a bent abdomen and a herniated abdomen. She walked out of an emergency visit in November with a doctor's recommendation for a hysterectomy. He warned that if left untreated, fibroids would continue to grow.
"It was very painful, even after he gave me morphine," Silva said. "I came out with this thing in my stomach, and they said, 'You have to have surgery.'"
That started Silva's demand for a month-long consultation in Birmingham with nearby cities, but he has yet to receive a response.
The omicron variant has rekindled pressure on U.S. hospital systems that have been struggling since March 2020 due to staff shortages, operating room capacity, beds and self-defense equipment.
The omicron variant appears to be limiting performance in other procedures, especially in hospitals where there are less than 30 percent beds in intensive care units, says the American College of Surgeons.
Although a detailed analysis of the effects of the omicron variant has not yet been obtained, the organization said hospitals and provinces were already taking drastic measures as they expected the current wave to continue for weeks or months.
Massachusetts, for example, issued a new directive Tuesday to limit "non-essential, urgent procedures" as its hospitals struggle to clear beds and deal with the latest wave of coronavirus patients.
Some are concerned that the lack of beds and the overcrowding of Covid patients could lead to missed health conditions or even hospital accidents.
Judy Starkey, 87, said she first felt back pain in October but ignored it. He found his powerful gun, went to a store, and walked around his home in Wayzata, Minnesota, but the pain continued to worsen, and the next morning his daughter Sarah, 58, found him screaming in pain and unable to move.