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Johnson Memorial Health preparing for increase in COVID-19 patients

Posted at 7:43 AM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 07:43:13-04

FRANKLIN — The spike in COVID-19 cases has forced Johnson Memorial Health to make changes just in case the hospital is overwhelmed.

Hospital officials are concerned with the number of people being treated for the coronavirus as the delta variant surges. It's a number they haven't seen in months, and emergency doctors said it can be prevented with vaccines.

"All these patients that are being admitted now, at our hospital, they're all unvaccinated. Nationwide, they're mostly unvaccinated," said Dr. Dave Dunkle, Johnson Memorial Health president and CEO. "It's tough when you're taking care of people that could have made the right choice to be vaccinated, and I hope that we're going to have enough beds as we head into the fall. As more and more people are being admitted, we're running out of beds."

The facility in Franklin has converted more than four offices into hospital rooms. Eight people who are unvaccinated are being treated at Johnson Memorial Health for COVID-19. A 40-year-old patient is on a ventilator, and the youngest patient is 25 years old.

Within the past 48 hours, the hospital leadership planned met to possibly re-implement the COVID-19 response that was in place last year when nurses and doctors were pulled from performing elective surgeries to treat COVID-related illnesses.

"It's tough when you have people that shouldn't be hospitalized. We have people as young as 25 years old in the hospital right now that shouldn't be," Dunkle said. "It's just that they have COVID and they chose not to be vaccinated, so I do worry that we're taking beds up from people that do need it, and I'm worried. You look at other states and they're shutting down surgery again. They're putting beds in cafeterias. I hope we don't reach that point here."