INDIANAPOLIS - Jennifer L. Hartwell, MD, is a trauma surgeon at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. She recently took a phone call she says underscores how connected our country is during this pandemic. She detailed that phone call in the tweet below.
I got a call last night asking to transfer a patient from a small town in Arkansas to our hospital…in Indianapolis. 600+ miles away. Because every other hospital they tried to call any closer was on diversion status.— Jennifer Hartwell, MD FACS (@traumamom4) August 6, 2021
Be patient with us America. We are tired. We are crowded.
For weeks, reports have shown many states with low vaccinations rates are struggling with a huge increase in COVID-19 patients. It has led to an increase in hospitalizations. Arkansas is one of those states. It's where Dr. Hartwell says she received a phone call asking if they could accept a patient.
"I queried about the reason why and it was because every hospital that hospital had called, they didn't have space available," she said. "The patient they were requesting to transfer was not necessarily due to COVID, it was for a non-covid related reason, but I think it really highlights that this has become a national issue."
Dr. Hartwell says COVID-19 patients require more than just a bed. Many require constant care and monitoring which ties up resources. She says all these factors, plus the chance of staffing shortages, likely led to the phone call she received. Despite the increase of COVID-19 cases here in Indiana, Dr. Hartwell says our hospitals are faring well.
"Currently in Indiana, we are not overwhelmed with COVID patients. We maintain the capacity to take care of our patients," she said.
Dr. Hartwell hopes sharing her story will help people make the best decision to protect themselves and to prevent what's happening to healthcare systems in other states from happening here.
"It is fatiguing to be in healthcare right now, mentally and physically. I can't convince anyone of that truth. All I can do is tell my own story," Dr. Hartwell said. "This is my life's work and I feel this is what I was made to do is to be a trauma and acute care surgeon. I hope I can provide awesome care to anyone who shows up at my doors no matter what beliefs they have."