This Living Local segment is sponsored by Medical West Hospital.

HOOVER, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local) – In mid-July, an otherwise healthy 32-year-old father found himself receiving emergency treatment for COVID-19 inside Medical West’s free-standing emergency department.

Dr. Carson Penkava, an emergency medicine doctor, treated the man. 

When he walked “into the emergency department, (he was) purple with an oxygen saturation of 35%, I’ve never seen something like that before this. We had to drop everything! Our whole staff was in here. Sometimes it feels like I’m practicing in a war zone,” Penkava said. 

Dr. Penkava suspects that some healthy people believe they are not at risk. “But I can tell you, that’s not true.”

“If you ask me to find the biggest risk factor of who’s going to be admitted to the hospital, or who’s going to get sick, it’s not; age, it’s not obesity, it’s not hypertension, diabetes, cancer; it’s the unvaccinated,” said Penkava. 

Hospitals are full. According to Dr. Penkava, sick people are being held in the emergency department because there is nowhere else to treat them. 

He and his colleagues wonder who has the most influence on people when making decisions for their health—Is it doctors? Or media personalities?  

“Unfortunately, the people that work in those media fields are more fun to listen to – more charismatic – than maybe people who, like myself, are working in medicine,” Penkava said. 

“Look to the people who have knowledge and experience to make informed decisions about Covid. I don’t know how this is becoming politicized, but it has.”

If you get Covid, but you’ve been vaccinated, you are 25 times less likely to be admitted to the hospital than someone who is not vaccinated. And, Penkava says, if you are not worried about yourself, think about protecting our children.

“We are starting to see kids get sick from Covid. And that’s another reason to get vaccinated – to stop spreading this to your children and stop spreading in schools,” said Penkava. 

Have questions about the vaccine? Penkava recommends talking to your primary caregiver.  For more information on Medical West and its doctors, visit