Breaking News
More () »

Forced to wait | Emergency rooms crowded as metro Atlanta hospitals care for COVID patients

Shy Warren, who is a healthcare worker, says she and her son spent 8 hours at Children's this week. She's appreciative of staff working hard to keep everyone safe.

ATLANTA — On Thursday, Georgia reported more than 9,800 new cases, making it one of the top ten worst days the state has seen since the pandemic started. The state is seeing about 16% of all tests coming back positive.

Health officials want that number to be below 5%. The steady surge of new cases is putting a huge strain on our hospitals. 

Right now, hospital workers are caring for almost 4,900 COVID-19 patients and they're hitting their breaking points; Many have limited ICU bed space available. 

Some people going to the emergency rooms are forced to wait hours to be seen, including the Warren family. 

Shy Warren, mother of  twin boys, said she went to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Scottish Rite Hospital earlier this week with her son, Bryson, when she saw a long line just to check in.

"I wasn't expecting to see a line like that when I entered the ER," she said. "It was pretty much out the door. As soon as you walked in the door, that was the line in the waiting rooms... they both were full."

Credit: Provided.

She said that after checking in, they waited another four hours to see a doctor. Shy added they spent a total time of about eight hours at the hospital, from 8 p.m. through 4 a.m.

Warren said11-year-old Bryson was having trouble breathing, so his pediatrician recommended taking him to the emergency room.

"My son was sick, but there were some very, very sick children. There was one child that had been vomiting the whole time we were sitting in the waiting room," she said.

After a chest X-ray, breathing treatment and COVID swab, they were able to head back home in Douglas County. 

"So, a lot of the hospitals in between Douglas County, and CHOA were full. We received notices that their ICUs were full, their ERs were full and were not taking any more patients," said Bryson's father, Brian.

Bryson's COVID-19 test came back positive.

Credit: Provided.

“I can't say that he's doing well," said Shy. "He still is having a lot of respiratory problems, still having to do a lot of breathing treatments around the clock. And he's too lethargic to do anything."

Shy knows that feeling all too well. She was hospitalized with COVID early 2020, fighting the virus from February through April.

"It can turn really bad really quick, which it did for me. So, right now I'm very concerned for him. Respiratory illnesses are so serious, the child can be fine one minute and then the next minute you can be calling the ambulance because your child is no longer breathing."

Her time fighting with COVID-19 is what pushed Shy, who is also travel RN, to help other people fighting the virus.

“I didn't want anybody else's family member to be treated the way I was treated," she said. "My respiration was sometimes in the 60s, nobody would come in and see if I was even still breathing or alive."

According to Children's, they have 31 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 right now. Compare that to June, when they had none. They credit this high volume of patients to a combination of the Delta variant, along with an unusual summer surge of respiratory viruses.

RELATED: Delta variant's impact on children highlighted by healthcare officials

“We are seeing more COVID-19 positive patients in our emergency departments, urgent care centers and hospitals than at any time in the pandemic," said Children's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jim Fortenberry.

Fortenberry added that most of the kids being hospitalized at Children's with COVID have underlying medical issues.

Bryson has asthma.

"I know that some floors in [other] hospitals are being closed because there isn't enough staff to cover those floors. I can't say enough about healthcare workers right now. I say to all of them, stay strong... prayerfully things will start picking up and going in the right direction," she added.

Shy said she hopes masks become mandatory at all school districts so that no child has to go through what Bryson is feeling.

"To my nurses, keep rocking out. Doctors, keep rocking out," said Shy. "You guys are appreciated even though you don't feel like it at times, but I thank everybody at CHOA for taking care of my baby."


Before You Leave, Check This Out