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Emergency rooms brace for influx of Labor Day weekend trauma

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 3, 2021 at 11:08 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Labor Day weekend is no holiday for doctors and nurses.

Hospitals in the Louisville area anticipate of an influx of weekend trauma cases. The possibility could bring new stress to hospitals already struggling with the latest COVID surge.

According to the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA), 54% of Kentucky acute care hospitals no longer have any ICU beds available, with 60% reporting a critical staffing shortage, up from 50% a week ago.

“Staffing is at the heart of the problem,” KHA President Nancy Galvagni said. “Hospitals can always create additional physical capacity. They can expand, they can create ICUs if they needed to. You can’t create an ICU if you don’t have nurses to staff those beds.”

Emergency rooms are also feeling the stress.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen it persistently this busy in our ER, in our hospital for weeks and months at a time,” Dr. Martin Huecker, UofL Emergency room physician, said. “As of right now, as of August to September 2021, we’re very busy around the clock. It seems that every ED (emergency department) in the city is like that. So compared to pre-COVID, we’ve had some busy trauma seasons in the past two years even before the pandemic where our ED was pretty darn full, but I couldn’t say I’ve ever seen it like this.”

Alcohol.org lists Labor Day among the booziest holidays with 10% of women and 17% of men engaging in binge drinking.

The National Safety Council is already predicting a 19% increase in holiday traffic fatalities.

Doctors are urging caution.

“Try to be responsible this weekend when the temptation is there to have a lot of fun. Do some fun things but be safe,” Huecker said. “Because (emergency rooms are) going to be a tough place to come to with a traumatic injury or anything else.”

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