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Ky. hospitals watch capacity levels as COVID-19 cases increase

WAVE Country healthcare systems are watching hospital capacity levels closely as COVID-19 cases...
WAVE Country healthcare systems are watching hospital capacity levels closely as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 3:22 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Baptist Health, Norton Healthcare, and UofL Health are keeping a close eye on hospital capacity levels as they continue to receive an influx of patients with COVID-19.

“It’s important for people to understand being sick and the increase in COVID is really going to start putting a pressure on us and our capability of providing care for everybody in town,” Dr. Hugh Shoff, the associate chief medical officer for University of Louisville Hospital and an emergency medical physician said. “As we’re in the summer our trauma population is up. Our hospitals are full and so on top of that, having COVID coming back is concerning for us from a health care standpoint.”

The number of positive COVID-19 patients at UofL Health has quadrupled since July. It is caring for more than 80 COVID-19 patients, with 20 in the intensive care unit.

UofL Health hospitals still have capacity to treat patients and accept transfers, however, Shoff said those who are unvaccinated and in the hospital with COVID-19 are taking resources and beds from other patients.

Baptist Health Floyd has reached capacity during some days over the past several weeks, averaging as many as 38 COVID-19 patients a day in addition to the larger influx of non-COVID patients they see this time of year.

“Our ED (Emergency Department) volume has been up as well so that’s kind of exacerbated the problems too of capacity issues.” Brian Cox, Baptist Health Floyd’s director of hospital operations and emergency preparedness said. “As we’ve had more patients in for non-COVID, adding COVID to that makes it that much more of a problem.”

Despite that, Baptist Health is still accepting patients, however it asks the public to only go to the emergency department for a true emergency and consider urgent care options in less-severe situations.

Norton Healthcare is currently using 72.5% of its operational beds, but the healthcare system is used to running at those levels and at even higher capacities in the intensive care units. There is a plan in place to increase capacity if need be, however, staffing could become an issue in some units if cases continue to increase.

“Nursing continues to be a staffing challenge for us like it is everywhere,” James Frazier, Norton Healthcare’s vice president of medical affairs said. “I think it’s a combination of the market we’re in, the environment that we’re in; I think healthcare burnout is a real thing.”

Norton is working to recruit employees to ensure staffing will not impact patient care.

The healthcare system is currently caring for 127 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals with 36 in the ICU. Frazier told WAVE 3 News out of the 127 positive coronavirus patients, only 12 were vaccinated.

“Just a little over 10 percent of the folks we have in the hospital have had the vaccine,” Frazier said. “We know that it works, we know that it protects you, it protects your family, please get the vaccine.”

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