Louisville, Southern Indiana healthcare systems see steady decline in COVID patients
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Healthcare systems across Louisville and Southern Indiana have reported a steady drop in the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized.
However, doctors said it’s too early to tell if the worst of the omicron variant is over.
At UofL Health, the number of infected patients in the hospital decreased from 280, which is the highest the healthcare system has seen with omicron, to 230 patients this week.
Dr. Jason Smith, Chief Medical Officer for UofL Health, said the biggest difference this week was that the healthcare system didn’t see its usual weekend rush.
“Typically what we see is you go into a weekend, and you gain around 20 plus patients or we had been gaining around 20 plus patients every single weekend,” Smith said. “We didn’t see that this past weekend. It’s been relatively consistent for us for the past seven days.”
Omicron has infected more healthcare staff compared to other variants, but UofL Health staff hasn’t seen a significant increase in the number of employees out sick recently.
“It’s tight, but no worse than it has been in the past few weeks, and I’m hopeful as we see the number cases going down, we’ll also see the number of positive cases among our staff members go down as well,” Smith said.
Norton Healthcare also reported a steady decline in the number of infected patients its staff cares for. Last week, Norton had 313 COVID-19 positive patients in its hospitals; that has dropped to 268 as of Wednesday.
The Baptist Health system has seen a slower drop in patients compared to UofL Health and Norton Healthcare. There are more than 500 infected patients in hospitals across Baptist Health locations.
In addition, there are many patients in the Baptist Health system with the coronavirus who have been in the hospital for more than a week.
The majority of those patients are unvaccinated, according to Brian Cox, Baptist Health’s Director of Hospital Operations and Emergency Preparedness.
“That overall has put a lot of capacity strains on not only Baptist Floyd, but the Baptist Health system as a whole, and a number of health systems,” Cox said.
More Baptist Health employees are out sick with omicron, which has slightly worsened the staffing shortage.
”We are seeing more of our staff out with this omicron wave compared to the delta or original waves in years past,” Cox said. “So that’s putting a little more strain on what we’ve had in prior with staff actually out infected with COVID versus just having to quarantine because of a close contact or family member at home having to be out.”
Despite the fact that the number of patients hospitalized is slowly declining, Smith told WAVE News it’s still too soon to say omicron has peaked; he wants to see this trend continue for a couple more weeks.
Even when that happens, Smith believes the omicron variant will stick around for a while.
“Barring some type of very strange mutation, my guess is that this is kind of what we’re going to have to deal with for the next year or so,” Smith said. “Something would have to out compete omicron. I’m not saying it couldn’t but (omicron) is very transmissible.”
All healthcare systems told WAVE News their hospitals still have capacity to care for patients and urged the public to avoid the emergency room when looking for a COVID-19 test.
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