RICHMOND — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations climb in Indiana, hospitals serving mostly rural areas are “feeling the pinch.”
Reid Health, which serves nine counties in the eastern part of the state, is at “critical” bed status because of the increasing number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“Virtually all the counties surrounding us and our own are seeing historic highs,” says Dr. Thomas Huth, Reid Health Vice President of Medical Affairs.
Setting record highs for their area, the vice president of medical affairs says they’re running out of space.
“There are only so many places we can put them,” says Dr. Huth. “We’ve created some temporary space to have overflow. But that has been exceeded, as well.”
He fears, they’ll have to cut back on services if this trend continues.
“We will have to look at whether we can continue to support the elective surgeries and so forth,” he says. “And I don’t want to cause alarm or panic because we’re trying to avoid that as best we can, but we are running out of options.”
Not to mention, the stress it’s putting on their staff. They’re seeing much more turnover right now among nursing staff and have 20 open positions to fill.
“We have to pull people into additional work, mandatory overtime to help support the COVID-19 cases in addition to our usual business,” says Dr. Huth.
71 beds are being used by COVID patients. As of Tuesday morning, Reid Health says they only have five beds available.
“We typically have on a normal day, 30 admissions through our emergency department. And those have gone up to 40, 50, 60, 70 a day. We had 70 a day one day last week. And so, how do you fit 70 people into five beds? Well, you have to turn over a lot of others,” he says.
They’re partnering with home care and extended care facilities to place patients elsewhere.
While Dr. Huth says he understands the COVID fatigue is real, he says all Hoosiers, and young people especially as asymptomatic spreaders, need to keep wearing face masks and follow safety precautions so hospitals are able to continue caring for patients.
“If everybody can understand that chain of transmission and take their own personal responsibility for their place in that chain, then we can get control over it,” he says.