Kansas Man Dies Waiting for ICU Bed Amid COVID-19 Surge

  • A Kansas man died after waiting several days for an ICU bed, amid a surge of COVID-19 patients.
  • Robert Van Pelt, 44, of Kansas, died last Sunday, according to his family. 
  • The surge in hospitalizations comes amid the spread of the Delta variant. 

A Kansas man reportedly died after waiting days for an intensive care unit bed because all the nearby hospitals were filled to capacity — largely with COVID-19 patients.

Robert Van Pelt, 44, died August 22, five days after his heart unexpectedly stopped while he underwent a routine procedure at a hospital in McPherson, Kansas, according to The Kansas City Star.

The newspaper reported that after Van Pelt’s heart stopped — leaving him without oxygen for several minutes — he was airlifted to a hospital in Wichita and intubated. But doctors said Van Pelt needed to be in a hospital with a neurological ICU.

A GoFundMe created by Van Pelt’s family, which raised $9,840 so far, said he needed to be transferred “due to possible damage to the brain and prolonged brain seizure activity.”

But Van Pelt ended up waiting three days for a bed in a neurological ICU, according to KWCH

By the time a bed opened up for Van Pelt at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, Kansas, doctors said he no longer had brain activity, the Kansas City Star reported.

The newspaper added that Ascension had converted some of their neurological ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

In an update last Sunday, Van Pelt’s family said that he “unfortunately, passed away tonight at 6:44 pm in the loving arms of his family and friends. His organs are now on their way to saving the lives of others and enlightening the lives of their family.”

In Kansas, the highly contagious Delta variant has left hospitals in the state overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, according to the Associated Press.

“We accept transfers as we are able, but when the volumes are running high, there often are times when we cannot,” Kris Hill, VP of nursing of Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, told the AP. 

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