COVID spike leads to concerns about hospitals in Ky., Ind.

COVID spike leads to concerns about hospitals in Ky., Ind.
Wednesday had the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic started for Indiana. (Source: Marcelo Leal)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As COVID cases continue to spike across the country and in both Kentucky and Indiana, one question keeps coming up: will hospitals be able to handle it?

It’s not a worry over the number of beds, but having enough staff to cover them. Hospitals are looking at almost 1,900 Hoosiers with either confirmed or suspected COVID cases, and in Kentucky, it’s that amount stands at 1,100.

Wednesday had the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic started for Indiana. The daily intake topped 200 patients. November numbers have also made a dramatic one-month leap in the Commonwealth.

“We have approximately doubled the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in regular medical or surgical beds and we have substantially more than doubled the number of people in the intensive care unit,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said.

While Stack said he’s worried too many health care workers could catch the virus out in the community, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah Box reported that across Indiana, they’re already seeing the strain.

“Some hospitals have already needed to rearrange their elective surgical procedures to accommodate their staffing needs,” Box said. “We also are receiving three to five requests a day for staffing assistance to our healthcare workforce reserved for hospitals.”

WAVE 3 News checked in with some of the bigger systems in the area. UofL is at 79 patients with 20 of them in the ICU. Baptist Health didn’t have exact numbers Thursday but said its hospitals in the Louisville area are experiencing some of the highest levels of COVID patients. Norton Healthcare has 123 patients.

All three systems said they are confident about their number of beds, PPE, and staff right now.

“Fortunately, those patients aren’t translating into more ICU patients, which is good,” Dr. Steven Hester, the Chief Medical Officer of Norton said. “Early in the pandemic, we saw a lot higher percentage of admitted patients going to the ICU.”

Hester says they look at these areas daily across all area hospitals.

“The good news on this is we’ve got a lot of experience in this since March,” Hester said. “Certainly in March, we had a lot of unknowns. I think we’re in a much better place, a better place to be prepared. Not only that, but I think more information even about the virus so we can treat patients.”

Thursday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the state’s working with hospitals, which are working with each other to make sure patients can find beds, and if staffing becomes an issue, they’ll set up field hospitals again.

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