A travel nurse working in El Paso, Texas took to Facebook live to tell the world about the atrocities occurring to Coronavirus patients in her hospital. She accused the hospital of not treating COVID positive patients with all of their efforts.  

Video Produced by Henry Kueppers

COVID-19 has certainly taken an emotional and physical toll on everyone. Nurses and doctors since the beginning of the pandemic have taken to social media to explain the severity of the pandemic and the horrors they have to deal with daily.  

Lawanna Rivers is a travel nurse who had shared some of the darkest moments in our pandemic that she has witnessed. Most recently, explaining what is going on at her hospital in El Paso. 

University Medical Center Of El Paso

Lawanna Rivers has served at five different hospitals during the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. However, her most recent experience at the University Medical Center of El Paso has been the worst by far.

Rivers said, “Out of all the COVID assignments I’ve been on, this one here has really left me emotionally scarred. The facility I’m at has surpassed the one I was at in New York.”

Hospitals across Texas are reporting the new surge in COVID-19 cases is leaving them short of supplies, like masks and ventilators. Even worse, they don’t have enough rooms to fit all the people who are sick.

This has led to unthinkable and dire circumstances, like the ones Lawanna described in her video. According to her, the sickest patients in her hospital were sent to an area called, “the pit.” There, patients are left to essentially die.

The Facebook Live

River’s Facebook Live was almost 50 minutes long. She went live on her Facebook on November 7th. In her video she explains, “My first day at orientation, I was told that whatever patients go into the pit, they only come out in a body bag.”

Lawanna also reported that nurses are practically on their own to treat patients in the pit because doctors will not go in there. Because these are the sickest patients, doctors will not risk being around them, in case they contract COVID-19 and spread it to other patients. Needless to say, Lawanna was frustrated by this.

“I saw a lot of people die that I felt like shouldn’t have died. Out of all the codes that we had there, there’s not a single patient that made it,” Rivers stated.

She explained that she believes if patients had just received better treatment earlier, they wouldn’t have had a room like “the pit” in the first place. “If those doctors there would aggressively treat those patients from the beginning, a lot more would make it,” she said. Instead, because their morgues were so full, nurses had to start wheeling in body bags into the pit.

Rivers accused the University Medical Center of giving special treatments to different patients. In one case, a doctor’s wife was given full attention and was the only patient who made it out of the ICU alive while she was working there.

She described the situation in the live, “The nurse that orientated me had one patient she was called the ‘VIP’ patient, she was a doctor’s wife. And when I say they pulled out all the stops for that woman, it was nothing that they didn’t do for that woman, and guess what she was the one patient that made it out of that ICU alive.”

University Medical Center’s Response 

Following the release of her video, the University Medical Center of El Paso issued the following statement: “After watching the video, while we cannot fully verify the events expressed, we empathize and sympathize with the difficult, physical and emotional toll that this pandemic takes on thousands of healthcare workers here and throughout our country.”

Since then Lawanna Rivers has left her position with University Medical Center of El Paso because she was afraid of what might happen if she were to get COVID-19 there. “If I get COVID here in Texas..I’m going to die. It was that bad,” she said. 

Texas recorded over a million cases, the first state to do so, and El Paso is one of the worst cities hit with Coronavirus. El Paso had a convention center converted into an emergency medial site so they have more hospital beds but they are so overrun that patients are being airlifted out of the city.

Chief executive of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, John Henderson, explained that as the urban hospitals fill up the smaller facilities scramble to find beds for patients that are in crisis.

“When you’re a small, rural, isolated hospital and you have a patient that exceeds not just your staffing capability but your scope of services capability, that becomes really hard,” he said.

Social Media’s Response

The video quickly went viral as many people could not believe what Rivers was describing in her Facebook Live.

This Twitter user agreed with what she was saying. She explained she didn’t feel like anyone cared.

This nurse stating that she too won’t be the same after this pandemic.

These doctors showed their support for Lawanna.

These Facebook users felt heartbroken after hearing her story.

As the numbers continue to rise many hospitals are being overcrowded and staff is asked to take on extra shifts. Everyone should be comfortable seeking medical attention knowing that they are getting professionals who will do whatever they can to help them. It’s unsettling to know that this may be happening during a time like this. Do you think the medical center should’ve responded to the allegations differently?

Video Created By:
Henry Kueppers