Video: EMRMC says 8 died of COVID within 24 hours

Published 2:59 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2021

 This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. to include comments from Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Ephraim McDowell Health Jeremy Cocanaugher, as well as data from EMH. 

The video below features Steve Haines, who is the intensive care unit director for Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. He shared that over the weekend, eight people died at EMRMC due to COVID-19 within 24 hours.

This video was shared on Ephraim McDowell Health’s Facebook page, and Gov. Andy Beshear presented it during his COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

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In the video, Haines said the COVID-19 surge that has happened over the past few weeks has been “pretty horrific.”

“This time, it was like the door opened and it just kicked it in,” he said in the video. “We were immediately overwhelmed. This last two weeks has been, as I said, has been pretty horrible with the way it’s just come on, and unfortunately people are passing away from this, quickly.”

The hospital has been overwhelmed to the point that their morgue capacity isn’t sufficient.

“We only have a three-bed morgue at the hospital, so we kind of overwhelmed what we have,” Haynes said in the video. “We were frantically scrambling to try to rent a refrigerator truck to take care of these people.”

Funeral homes couldn’t pick up the bodies fast enough, he said.

The overwhelming majority of the people the hospital is intubating are not vaccinated, and Haines urged viewers to get vaccinated, saying he doesn’t think the situation would be so severe if more people were vaccinated.

As families have been losing loved ones, some of their last conversations have been over FaceTime. Haines said in some cases, EMRMC staff have been working on someone’s lungs, but then the patient will experience clotting in their arteries and they’ll die that way, for example, or of stroke or other causes of death.

“It’s a horrible disease,” he said. “We’ll take somebody out, we’ll take them to the morgue when we just can’t save them, and there’s somebody waiting two minutes later.”

Before the video ended with Haines in tears, he said the current situation is that housekeeping will come into a room and clean, then a new patient quickly comes into the room.

“It’s a horrible rinse and repeat cycle.”

When asked about the current COVID-19 situation at Ephraim McDowell Health’s various locations, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at EMH Jeremy Cocanaugher shared the following data on Tuesday, for that day alone:

Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center 
• 32 cases – 10 of those in ICU on ventilators.  Twenty-two are in the medical-surgical unit.  Five of the 32 are vaccinated.
Ephraim McDowell James B. Haggin Hospital
• Two cases – zero on ventilators.  One  is vaccinated.
Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital
• Three cases –  One on ventilator.  Zero are vaccinated.
He said EMH will try to release updated information about once a week to their Facebook page on cases. Their most current information released on Facebook, also mentioned in another Advocate-Messenger story, reflects the following:
In a post EMH shared on Aug. 20, a chart showed that in hospitalizations and deaths by vaccination status between March 1, 2021, to Aug. 19, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized who were not vaccinated was 310. Of those, 26 patients died. By contrast, the number of vaccinated, hospitalized COVID-19 patients was 25, and of those, two people died.
Another chart in the same post showed that in the time frame of Aug. 13-19, 84% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were unvaccinated individuals, 93.8% of ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations were unvaccinated patients, and 80.6% of medical-surgical COVID-19 hospitalizations were for those who were unvaccinated.
Because misinformation regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine is circulating and has been throughout the pandemic, Cocanaugher said, “That’s why we put the information out that we do, so people can see what is happening locally and I would hope people look at us as a trusted source. We’re presenting the facts that we have locally.”
Later, he said, “I would encourage people to check trusted resources and get information that’s not just hearsay, or somebody said, but check the facts, and go to trusted resources.”
The Advocate-Messenger is seeking more information on the people who died at EMRMC over the weekend and the current COVID-19 situation at the hospital. Updates will be published as provided. Anyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19 and would like to share their story with us, please contact us at or call 859-469-6413.