cbs evening news/ youtube Nathaniel Osborn
When Nathaniel Osborn and his wife took their son Seth to the emergency room at a Florida hospital this summer, the 12-year-old was in severe pain, but stable. It was 1 p.m. on a Wednesday, and as they waited for hours and hours in the packed waiting room, Seth's condition worsened, and he developed shooting aches in his stomach that had him "quivering in pain," Nathaniel told CBS News.
Nathaniel's wife asked why it was taking so long for someone to check on Seth, and the nurse rolled her eyes and "said something to the effect of: 'Well, what do you think? We're slammed with COVID,' " he said.
Six hours later, Seth was diagnosed with appendicitis, and another five hours later he was loaded into an ambulance to go to a hospital a half-hour away that could better perform pediatric emergency surgery, ProPublica reported. But by the time the hospital was ready to operate early the next morning, Seth's appendix had burst, putting him at risk of dying.
Because his appendix had ruptured, Seth now needed an intensive course of antibiotics to make sure he didn't develop an infection, and remained in the hospital for five days and four nights. The cost of his hospital stay came out to $48,000, and after insurance the family still has to pay more than $5,000.
Seth is feeling better now — "Twelve-year-old boys bounce back," Nathaniel said, but the experience left the father and high school history teacher frustrated with the people who continue to refuse to get vaccinated.
On Sept. 6, Nathaniel tweeted: "My 12-year-old had appendicitis. The ER was overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID patients and we had to wait 6+ hours. While waiting, his appendix ruptured and had to spend 5 days in hospital; just got hmo bill of $5000. So yeah, your decision to not vaccinate does affect others."
Nathaniel, who is vaccinated as are his wife and Seth, added: "We have to team up and track down this virus down[sic] and slay it. We all have to pull together."
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He added to ProPublica that he doesn't fault the hospitals for his son's health problems, and instead points to the unvaccinated.
"I have no ill will towards the hospitals or the care received at either hospital," he said, "but had these hospitals not been so crowded with COVID patients, we wouldn't have had to wait so long and perhaps my son's appendix would not have burst."
The Osborns' experience is becoming more and more common around the U.S. One Florida mom with stage 4 colon cancer told PEOPLE that she was forced to wait five hours in an ER, alone and throwing up, before she was seen by doctors. And last week, an Alabama man died of heart issues after he was allegedly turned away by 43 different hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients, his family said.
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