Coral Princess COVID-19 passenger left waiting for hospital

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After waiting four hours for a desperately needed hospital bed and ventilator, family members of a COVID-19 patient aboard the Coral Princess called 911, rather than continuing to wait on the cruise line to keep their loved one safe.

Wilson Maa, 71, needed help – quickly. Hours after five other people were hospitalized on the cruise ship docked in Port Miami, Maa became much sicker.

His oxygen level fell dangerously low around 5 p.m., forcing ship’s medical staff to put him under a manual ventilator, the kind that someone pumps in his hand to breathe a patient’s lungs. He needed a mechanical fan immediately to keep him alive.

But the ship’s doctor told Maa’s family that there were no hospital beds available and that the ambulances were “locked,” even as a private ambulance company transported the sick at the start of the week was ready.

Data from the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration show that while her family was waiting for Maa to be evacuated from the ship, the same hospital that took two Coral Princess patients earlier in the day, the Larkin Community Hospital, had 11 adult intensive care beds available between the two campuses.

The same data shows that there were more than 150 adult intensive care beds available at Miami-Dade County hospitals at 7:30 p.m.

“The doctor stressed that public and private hospital beds with ventilators are not available,” said Maa’s son-in-law Jason Chien. “He also says that the ship is lacking in oxygen but is unable to refuel due to the fact that the governor or the Miami area have a” lockup “of ambulances or something like that. “

Under the Miami-Dade County Lockdown Order, private ambulances are considered a vital business.

An executive from Miami-Dade Ambulance, a private ambulance company that carried out work at PortMiami this week, said the company was still open for business and calls, as were other private ambulance providers.

Representatives from Princess Cruises, ship owner, Carnival Corp., owner of Princess Cruises, or Miami-Dade County did not respond to requests for comment on why Maa was unable to access a hospital bed for four hours.

“We are either at an impasse or are being circumvented by everyone we call,” Chien said. “We don’t know who calls the shots and makes the decisions about triage and the use of medical resources. “

An ambulance finally retrieved Maa from the ship around 10 p.m. and took him to the South Miami campus of Larkin Community Hospital.

Maa started getting sick last Saturday aboard the Coral Princess. His wife, Toyling Maa, quickly followed. A test confirmed that Wilson had COVID-19, but Chien said he was fine until Saturday night’s turn for the worse.

Friday evening, two Coral Princess passengers died. The ship docked Saturday morning in Port Miami and evacuated the five sickest to Larkin Community Hospital in Miami-Dade and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa.

Miami Herald reporter Douglas Hanks contributed to this story.

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