Hospitals evaluate numbers of employees and beds as surge of COVID cases begins

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 4:31 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Concerns about hospital capacity during this latest surge of COVID cases may have less to do with the availability of beds, and more to do with having enough people to treat the sick.

UofL Health already reports 400 employees are out sick, 120 of them provide bedside care.

“We are dealing with the short staff situation with people being out because of COVID just like every large business in Louisville is,” UofL Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith said. “But on top of that, we are, unlike many other businesses that are kind of declining, we are facing a surge.”

Hospitals are already feeling the strain.

“We do have some patients in other hospitals that we would like to get to our hospital,” Baptist Health Louisville Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chuck Anderson said, “that we can’t transfer for a higher level of care, because we have no critical care bed to put them in right now.”

There is one key difference from the surges of previous years. The omicron variant may be infecting a lot of people, but it is not sending as many into the ICU. Instead, it’s flooding immediate care and testing facilities.

Norton reports administering more than 3,000 COVID tests a day.

“Those places are seeing a huge influx in those coming to them for care,” Charlotte Ipsan, Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital Chief Administrative Officer said. “The number of patients that are being admitted or those that are needing a ventilator are not what we saw before.”

On Thursday, Baptist Health Louisville will begin restricting elective surgery to outpatient cases only as a way of preserving available beds. All hospitals are closely watching the daily numbers and the calendar.

“The thing that everyone seems to be worried about most is that we are really not at the peak yet of where this is going,” Dr. Smith said. “That’s probably two to three weeks away depending what we’ve seen coming through the testing sites.”

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