Southern Indiana hospitals see sharp increase in COVID hospitalizations

Southern Indiana hospitals see sharp increase in COVID hospitalizations

SEYMOUR, Ind. (WAVE) - COVID-19 hospitalizations in Indiana hit 3,000 on Wednesday, according to state officials, and the sharp rise in number in the last few months is deeply concerning to Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor.

“We are very concerned with the numbers we are seeing in Indiana,” Tabor said. “The shape of the graph is what’s really alarming. This is not a steady increase. This is an exponential curve like what we learned in school, and that’s pretty scary.”

Tabor said he’s concerned watching how states west of Indiana like Iowa and Wisconsin are doing with their hospital capacities.

“I think it’s sort of like bracing for a hurricane,” Tabor said. “You know a little bit about it, maybe you’ve been through one before, but you know that this one could increase in strength as it comes towards you. You hope that it will decrease and that really comes down to kind of as Hoosiers whether it strengthens or lessens, but we know it’s coming. It’s already here. Again, 3,000 hospitalizations over that today for the first time. That number has gone up every day.”

Tabor said he’s concerned about the next two weeks and how much more the healthcare system can handle.

”Even if we slow the spread today, hospitalizations lag,” he said. “So we will continue to see that spike for 10 to 14 days after we get control of our cases. This isn’t a one or two week phenomenon here. We’re really bracing for increases for the foreseeable future. And I don’t think any part of Indiana will be spared.”

Tabor said if the virus isn’t slowed down, there could be issues later with access to hospitals and care.

Schneck Medical Center President and CEO Dr. Eric Fish said it’s getting harder to maintain staffing levels and expand capacity.

“Capacity wise our ICU has been full,” Fish said. “The problem is these patients with COVID have long length of stay. I think we have people who have been here 2 or 3 weeks, if not a couple even longer.”

Fish said not all of the beds in the hospital or ICU are for COVID patients but a mixture of COVID patients and others with various medical needs.

The hospital was in a critical care diversion two days this week, sending patients to other facilities for critical care.

“We had a day this week where we cancelled non-urgent surgeries because of capacity,” Fish said. “Staffing is a real issue for all hospitals right now. Whether it’s quarantine or just volume. We’ll run out of staff before we run out of beds.”

Since Nov. 1, Fish said they have doubled their number of COVID patients, hitting an all time high last week.

“I’m concerned about Thanksgiving, I’m concerned about every wedding, every funeral, anytime there is a mass gathering. This virus is not going to go away,” he said.

Fish also said he’s concerned about his staff, who have been on the frontlines since March, caring for sick patients day in and day out.

“Our people are struggling right now, they need the love and support of their communities,” Fish said.

Clark Memorial CEO Martin Padgett said they, too, have seen a major increase in COVID hospitalizations in the last few months.

”In July we had about 5% of our patients were COVID positive that were in the hospital,” Padgett said. “Today we’re at over 30%. So that’s a significant increase.”

Padgett said just a few weeks ago, they were at about 12-15% of COVID patients. As of Wednesday, about 32% of the hospital’s patients are there for COVID-19. He said there is one COVID patient currently on a ventilator at the hospital. He also said in terms of PPE and ventilators, the hospital has increased their supply over the last several months.

“We aren’t at a breaking point but we are very, very busy with COVID patients,” Padgett said. “I don’t think our staff are thinking two weeks ahead of time of what it may look like. I think they are thinking today and their patients.”

Padgett, Fish and Tabor said they hope people will think twice before attending any large gatherings and think about the healthcare workers.

”We will be here for you because that’s what hospitals have always done but think about helping us out,” Padgett said. “And the way you can do that is to stay home, stay with your immediate circle you are always with and if you do have to go out, please wear a mask.”

Padgett, Fish and Tabor all agreed that there is some hope in the fight for COVID-19, with new antibody treatments and vaccines looking promising.

WAVE 3 News reached out to Baptist Health Floyd about their hospitalizations and capacity. In a statement they said:

Baptist Health Floyd continues to monitor the rise in COVID cases across our region. While cases are increasing, we are well prepared with resources including PPE, surge capacity and staffing. We have not had a need to adjust scheduling for appointments or procedures, but are monitoring this on a daily basis to ensure we have the right capacity to care for patients.

WAVE 3 News also reached out to King’s Daughter’s Health. President and CEO Carol Dozier said in a statement:

We continue to see increased cases of positive COVID results throughout the community. We are prepared to effectively care for all patients, including those that may require ventilated support in the hospitalized setting, ICU included. We are appreciative of our dedicated staff and physicians for providing care to the community during this ongoing pandemic.

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