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Increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, staffing shortages puts strain on local hospitals

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Posted at 7:30 PM, Aug 26, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Across the country, more than 100,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That is the highest number in seven months.

More than 2,100 of those patients are in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Health on Thursday reported that 2,108 people are in Indiana hospitals with COVID-19 or suspected cases of COVID-19. That is the highest number since January 23, 2021.

That increase in hospitalizations is putting a major strain on our healthcare systems locally. Most, if not all, major hospitals in the Indianapolis area have been on diversion at some point in the past last week or two, meaning they don't have the staff or space to take on more patients.

In fact, according to Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, there was a period of about eight hours this week where all major hospitals in our area were on diversion.

This is also being seen across the region. The President of Johnson Memorial Health said they recently had to transfer a patient from Franklin, Indiana to as far away as Muncie to receive care.

“We've been on diversion several days. In fact, as we speak, we're on critical care diversion right now," Dr. Dave Dunkle, President, and CEO of Johnson Memorial Health said. "We have six patients in the ICU now, three on ventilators, two others who are not doing well from a respiratory standpoint, and that is high-intensity nursing that is needed and there's a shortage in nursing, especially critical care nursing."

"It is a little misleading to think things are okay out there because things are really really tight,” Dr. Ram Yeleti, Chief Physician Executive at Community Health Network said. “The total number of patients in our hospital is much higher now than it was last year during previous surgeries so there are just more people sick, and then we have more COVID-19 patients who are sick and we have fewer nurses, so all three of those together it's just a perfect storm which is really putting a strain on everybody."

Both health system leaders continue to urge people to get vaccinated. They say the majority of COVID-19 patients in the ICU have not been vaccinated.