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'I guess I just have to wait' | Patients battling other illnesses left to worry during virus surge

Some DMV hospitals have suspended elective surgeries in the wake of this latest coronavirus surge.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — The current COVID surge is having an impact on people who need medical care who have not been infected by the virus.

Many hospitals are being overwhelmed with COVID patients in the D.C. region.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently ordered hospitals to suspend elective surgeries due to the crisis.

Maria Cobo, 82, of Wheaton, said a doctor diagnosed her earlier this month with atrial fibrillation. She was then ordered to receive medicine at a local hospital to prevent a possible stroke. Cobo said she was informed she would have to stay three days in their care.

So, Cobo’s daughter, Diana, said they scheduled an appointment at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center on the 28th for the medical procedure.

But she said the pair soon got some bad news.

"They tell us that, you know, I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to take her,” Diana Cobo said. “There's not any beds due to the COVID surge."

The Cobos then decided to reschedule the appointment for January 4.

However, luck would not be on their side.

Diana Cobo said her mother was informed her situation was not an emergency and she would have to wait for her procedure to be conducted as medical staff dealt with the coronavirus spread.

“I guess I just have to wait,” Maria Cobo said. “I don’t have another choice.”

She did say she is trying to stay optimistic.

"God knows what he's doing,” Maria Cobo said.

As for her daughter, two years into the pandemic, Diana Cobo says she cannot understand how the medical system can still get tied up like it is now.

"The nurse told me that it was the unvaccinated that are taking up the beds,” she said. “My mom doesn't get to have this medicine given to her that can prevent her from having a stroke and dying."

She said while does not like to judge people based on the decisions they make for themselves, she would like to see more people get vaccinated.

"It's bothering to me that it's become such a political issue,” she said. “This shouldn't be about politics. It should be about what's best for society and the safety of others."

WUSA9 reached out to MedStar to ask what how it is handling care for people who have illnesses other than COVID at this time.

A Medstar spokesperson said the health system is not delaying any time sensitive procedures or surgeries at this time. 

"We are managing inpatient bed capacity through a management process which includes daily leadership calls to assess staffing and resources at our ten hospitals," said Medstar spokesperson Marianne Worley. "This process facilitates load balancing across our sites to optimize utilization of beds."

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