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Published on September 12, 2021

Life in 5 West: Stories from a Moses Cone COVID-19 Unit

As the Delta variant continues to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases, patients and caregivers share their stories from inside a medical specialty unit at Moses Cone Hospital.

GREENSBORO – COVID-19 continues to put a strain on communities and health care systems around the world. At Moses Cone Hospital, patients and caregivers in the 5 West medical specialty unit are navigating a spike in cases as a result of the Delta variant.

For Tony Rodriguez, the symptoms came on slowly but then took a sharp turn.

“I started feeling woozy last week,” he said. “Then one day, I woke up and couldn’t breathe and I was really confused. So, I called 911.”

Rodriguez spent several days in the hospital battling COVID-19. He hadn’t yet been vaccinated because he wanted to wait for FDA approval of the vaccines. When approval came for the Pfizer vaccine, Rodriguez admittedly put off the shot because he got busy. He now says he wishes he’d made a different decision.

“I’ve never felt so weak,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve needed this much help. [COVID-19 is] not just some fever, it’s not a flu. It’s different.”

Jamie Cargal, RN, BSN, is the 5 West nursing director at Moses Cone. She and her staff have been responsible for handling a surge in cases over the past few months due to the Delta variant. Cargal admits the surge has taken a toll on caregivers in the unit.

“We went from having three patients in the bed one day, to literally over a weekend all 35 of our beds being full,” Cargal said. “It’s heart-wrenching to see these patients come in and not be able to have their families with them, not be able to have caregivers by their side to be able to help them through this difficult situation.”

Latrell Brown spent several days in 5 West recovering from COVID-19. For personal reasons, he chose not to get vaccinated. His experience with the virus has changed his mind.

“You could walk past somebody, and they could look perfectly fine, and they could have [COVID-19] right there, and you could get it just like that without knowing,” he said. “Now, I just want to protect my family and the people around me. That’s the main reason why I want to get vaccinated.”

As patients and staff continue to fight off COVID-19, it will take a community effort to slow the spread, Cargal says.

“Please get your vaccinations, wear your mask even if you are vaccinated,” she said. “We just have to protect ourselves, and that way we are protecting those outside of our circles.”

To schedule a COVID-19 test or vaccination appointment, or to learn more about Cone Health’s COVID-19 response efforts, visit conehealth.com/covid-19-information