***AUTHOR’S NOTE: Under ordinary circumstances, most hospitals would not grant media access to their ICU, nor would our news organization seek it. The extreme seriousness of the situation in hospitals across West Virginia led WVU Medicine officials and us to come to the conclusion that this information needed to get out to the public. While in the COVID ICU, our staff did not enter any patient rooms and did not interfere with patient care. All of the videos and still images associated with this series of reports were reviewed by WVU Medicine officials to ensure patient privacy.

MORGANTOWN, WV (WBOY) – All this week, we’ve brought you a series that has taken people inside the COVID ICU at WVU Medicine’s J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, in Morgantown, all in an attempt to give people a glimpse at the strain the latest COVID-19 surge has put on hospitals throughout West Virginia.

In part one, we heard that strain explained firsthand by one of the doctors tasked with making the state’s trauma care system work.

In part two, it was the medical workers who’ve been on the frontlines, in the COVID ICU, throughout the pandemic, who described the toll coronavirus and associated staffing shortages have taken.

Next, in part three, we saw a last-ditch, potentially lifesaving procedure, called “proning,” in action.

Then, in part four, those same frontline ICU doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists gave their thoughts on why vaccination is so important, based on their experiences.

In the final installment, we again hear from the group of medical professionals on why they felt it was so important to get this information and these images out to the public.

“I think getting the word out to people that our state is dying, our state is dying and not just the older people. There are young people in the state who are dying or who will have lifelong pulmonary sequelae and not be able to work. It’s not just the elderly people. We’re seeing the 45-year-old, the 32-year-old, the people who thought they were invincible, and now it’s not so invincible,” said Dr. Alison Wilson, the Executive Chair of the WVU Critical Care & Trauma Institute.

Dr. Alison Wilson

“It’s real, it’s a real thing. I’ve heard so many crazy stories from government conspiracy to, ‘it’s not real,’ to, ‘there’s no real definitive test to prove that you have COVID.’ That’s three that I’ve heard over the past couple of weeks. The misinformation is the biggest thing that bothers me. It’s kind of hard for me to deal with because just seeing what I see every day when I work. I wish I could have like a bring a friend to work day or something,” Medical ICU RN Greg Kolar said.

Greg Kolar, RN

Dr. Wilson summed up her thoughts: “I love the people in West Virginia, and it’s really hard to know each day that we have people that are dying, that in the past, we could have helped if we had just been able to get people’s attention and get them to engage in some positive, whether it’s masking or whether it’s some of their other choices with attending large parties, or the vaccine, which is really the best way to protect yourself and others.”