For decades, I have represented the victims of catastrophic car and truck crashes. The most seriously hurt among them, with brain and spinal cord injuries, owed their survival in the days and weeks after injury to treatment in trauma centers and Intensive Care Units (ICU). Only later were they even eligible to benefit from excellent rehabilitation programs such as those at Shepherd and Emory.

Now ICU capacity at Georgia hospitals is virtually exhausted due to treatment of Covid-19 patients, about 97% of whom are unvaccinated. Both the physical capacity of hospitals in terms of ICU bed space and the human capacity in terms of trained staff are at a breaking point.

Ambulances transporting injury victims are being diverted from hospitals that are over capacity with unvaccinated Covid patients. Both hospitals with  Level 5 trauma centers in metro Atlanta,   Grady Hospital, and Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center,  this week are on “total diversion,” as emergency and ICU rooms are full. A trauma victim who normally would go straight to one of these hospitals, may not get in. Piedmont, Northside, and Emory Midtown are also diverting emergency patients because they are over capacity with most-unvaccinated Covid patients. Even if a trauma victim is accepted in an ER, there may be severe delay of treatment due to saturation of hospital capacity.

A friend who was a long-time ICU nurse at a major Atlanta hospital spent her last several months before retirement in the “war zone” of the first wave of Covid-19.  Like many dedicated medical personnel, the demands of the pandemic drove her to the decision to retire for the protection of her health and the well-being of her family. Seasoned ICU nurses are not easily replaced.

If a loved one is badly injured in Georgia today, with life depending on access to the best medical care, such access may be delayed by the decisions of people who chose not to get a readily available vaccine.

If you are hesitant to be vaccinated against Covid-19, remember that it’s not all about you. If your decision to forego vaccination lands you in a crowded ICU, it could be fatal to some innocent person suffering an unrelated injury or other medical crisis.

Call us today at our Atlanta office 404-253-7862 or submit your inquiry online, and find out if we can help.

A senior counsel in the firm of Johnson & Ward, Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law. and Truck Accident Law. He is one of only three Georgia lawyers to earn board certification in Truck Accident Law. He has served as a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its eleventh annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation, and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2020, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law SchoolMr. Shigley is a widower, father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.