'No one should die alone' -Oklahoma COVID doctor

"The disease is real, unfortunately the misery is real, and we have and still see patients die every day."

Dr. Syed Naqvi job’s is exhausting – physically and mentally. The pulmonologist is part of the ICU team at the SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, where there's been a steady stream of COVID-19 cases.

"No one should die alone. And unfortunately we have had several patients who have spent the last few days, last few weeks of their life here in the hospital without their family, and that's unfortunately very sad. I still remember one guy whose last message was tell his son that he loves him. Another guy, his son was out of Oklahoma, so he literally said tell my son to get his rear end here as soon as he can. Many of those stories they just stick with you."

Naqvi is starting to hear fewer requests like those for the time being.

At the same time as coronavirus vaccinations are being rolled out across the United States, the post-holiday spike in cases appears to be easing.

In Oklahoma, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized has fallen 34% in the last two weeks, according to a Reuters tally. And the state's death rate is roughly half the national average.

But that doesn't mean Naqvi is letting down his guard, knowing the situation could change quickly, just like it did earlier this year.

This time, however, the hospital staff have something they didn't have the last time.

"We just feel a little safer now as compared to before. The vaccine of course, as we know, is not 100 percent, but it's very close. It's almost 95 percent good. So we just feel a little more safe doing what we have been doing without the vaccine in the past."

And that brings a little ease of mind during another intense shift at the hospital.

Video Transcript

SYED NAQVI: The disease is real. Unfortunately, the misery is real. And we have and still see patients die every day.

- Dr. Syed Naqvi's job is exhausting-- physically and mentally. The pulmonologist is part of the ICU team at the SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, where there has been a steady stream of COVID-19 cases.

SYED NAQVI: No one should die alone. And unfortunately, we have had several patients who have spent the last few days, last few weeks of their life here in the hospital without their-- without their family. And that's unfortunately very sad.

I still remember one guy, his last message was tell his son that he loves him. Another guy, he told, his son was out of Oklahoma, so he literally said, tell my son to get his rear end here as soon as he can. So yeah, any of those stories, they just-- they'll stick with you.

- Naqvi is starting to hear fewer requests like those for the time being. At the same time as coronavirus vaccinations are being rolled out across the United States, the post-holiday spike in cases appears to be easing. In Oklahoma, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized has fallen 34% in the last two weeks according to a Reuters tally. And the state's death rate is roughly half the national average. But that doesn't mean Naqvi is letting down his guard, knowing the situation could change quickly, just like it did earlier this year. This time, however, the hospital staff have something they didn't have the last time.

SYED NAQVI: We just feel a little safer now as compared to before. I mean vaccine is, of course, as we know, is not 100%. But it's very close. It's almost 95% good. So you just feel a little more safe doing what we have been doing without the vaccine in the past.

- And that brings a little ease of mind during another intense shift at the hospital.