In online post, Hawaii nurse paints grim picture of his COVID patients’ ‘painful, lonely’ deaths

Nurse Kenny Akamu isn't always active on Facebook, but felt compelled to share what he's seeing firsthand.
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:18 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:11 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kenny Akamu has been a nurse for over 30 years.

And over the last year, he says he’s seen too many people of COVID and wants others to know just how dangerous the virus is.

“You barely, slowly suffocate to death and that’s really sad to see,” said Akamu.

The nurse isn’t always active on Facebook but recently felt compelled to share what he’s seeing firsthand. In an online post, he shared what it’s like helping patients in the final stages of their COVID battle.

“You die a painful, lonely death,” he wrote.

The nurse said patients also have no way to communicate if they’re in pain.

“The only way we can ventilate your lungs is by paralyzing you,” said Akamu.

“And sometimes, there is no way in which we can tell whether you’re suffering or not, we just guess, and hopefully we get the right guess.”

His post has dozens of shares on social media and many of the comments are thanking him for his brutal honesty.

“I don’t want to scare anybody, but yeah, I was surprised at the response people had about that,” Akamu said, in an interview with HNN. “And it’s true and I thought everybody knew about it.”

“But from the response I got, apparently nobody knows about how much you suffer when you die from COVID,” Akamu added.

Akamu’s message comes as Hawaii’s health care system is facing increasing strain from a surge in new COVID cases. Last week, the Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu declared an internal disaster.

On Tuesday, it looked calm on the outside.

But inside, health care workers say things can turn in a second.

“We’re just getting critical patients left and right, one right after the other,” said Marlita Marquez, respiratory therapist of The Queen’s Health System. “It hasn’t stopped.”

Marquez says a lot of the COVID patients she sees are experiencing shortness of breath.

“What I feel from them, they don’t expect it to be this bad. You know, they don’t, they think I’m just sick,” said Marquez. “But with COVID it progresses so fast that you know, one day you think you just have a cold and then not even one or two days later you’re on a ventilator.”

Akamu said they’re also seeing more young patients in critical condition.

“The false information is that if you’re young, you do good, but I mean, there’s a lot of COVID patients in there right now, a lot,” said Akamu. “And to tell you the truth, half of them is younger than me.”

Akamu hopes more people will consider getting vaccinated now that the Pfizer vaccine is FDA-approved.

He says some healthcare workers are immunocompromised but are still willing to work on the frontlines.

“I know some who are, and they are out there risking their lives,” said Akamu. “And if you’re not going to get a vaccine for yourself, think of getting the vaccine for them.”

“COVID is really hurting us, hurting our families,” Marquez said. “For us health care workers, we’ve been putting so much time in and willfully we do.”

“We want to help out our community, but it also takes a toll on us too,” Marquez added.

“I just would like the community to know that if we all just work together, especially with being responsible about socially distancing [and] wearing your mask.”

Akamu hopes those unvaccinated who are still on the fence will consider consulting with a doctor.

“If your mom or your loved one or yourself is very, very sick, maybe cancer or heart attack, stroke, what person are you gonna go to for advice? Are you going to go to the Google experts, are you going to go to your doctor?” asked Akamu.

“And if you say, you are going to go to your doctor, that’s the person you go to right now and ask them if you need the vaccine.”

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