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Hospitals’ Capacity ‘Teetering On The Edge’ Due To COVID

Volunteers from Warsaw Community Church prayed in front of Kosciusko Community Hospital Wednesday. Jeff Pfeifer (C), one of the pastors at WCC, said with the uptick in COVID-19 cases, they wanted to pray for the staff and patients. Volunteers of the church prayed at KCH when the pandemic first started and has become an impromptu thing. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
TIMES UNION REPORTS – Indiana hospitalizations are up, Kosciusko County Public Health Officer Dr. William Remington reported at the weekly COVID-19 press conference Wednesday morning, and local hospitals have a high number of COVID cases.

“We’re getting close to where we were at our worst early in December last year. We’re close to 2,700 hospitalized patients in the state of Indiana. We were around 2,500 last week,” he said.

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said less than 5% of hospitalizations are for breakthrough cases (people who have been vaccinated).

Remington said it is very clear that hospitalizations occur “many times fold greater” in unimmunized people compared to vaccinated people. He said you do see hospitalizations with recently vaccinated people but they’re a minority.

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s morbidity and mortality weekly report Sept. 10, Remington said, “This is what they ruled: Infection is five times – this is during the Delta period of time … The infection rate is five times greater in unimmunized compared to vaccinated. Hospitalizations are more than 10-fold more likely in unimmunized compared to immunized. The death rate is greater than 10-fold in unimmunized compared to immunized.”

He said there is “definite” reduction of disease burden in “uncoupling of death from cases if you are immunized.” Protection may not be perfect, as there are break-through cases, “but you are greatly protected against the worse hardship provoked by COVID infection,” he said.

As far as local hospitals, Remington said, “As far as I know, our local hospital is continuing to do semi-elective cases – hips and knees, colonoscopies, that type of things. They have a high volume of COVID cases right now, I know that. They need additional staff, and there are reports, just from what I heard from the state Department of Health, many areas across the state are diverting care because of bed capacity problems and staffing problems. And, also closing down some of their semi-elective procedures for a period of time.”

Locally, he said, hospitals have been able to “gobble together the staff and beds and trying to do all the route business at hand that hospitals need to do with non-COVID things. But that capacity, I think, is teetering on the edge.”

He said, “That particular understanding is why I’m so strong in my positioning toward vaccination, even being warmer to vaccine mandates and fully masked environments indoors.”

He said despite a news article he read about hospitals overstating their hospitalization rate, “It doesn’t make sense to me that they’d be overstating their hospitalization rate from COVID” if the resulting behavior is hospitals diverting care, asking for staff support and needing to shut down things that hospitals need to have done. “What hospital in this area would do that? It’s a real thing. The disease burden from COVID is real,” he said.

Remington said the hospitalizations aren’t fabricated and is a real issue.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, this durable, as a clinician. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years,” he said.

Thallemer said he’s also been made very aware, from the mental health side, that hospital workers are getting really weary and are leaving the profession.

“And not only is it the bed capacity a problem with the increased number of patients coming in, but the ability to handle those patients when hospitals are short-staffed, working overtime and you’ve got people who finally are just throwing their hands up. They see the health problems this thing causes and when they see people coming in, high hospitalization rate or those unvaccinated, it just seems like they’re not getting anywhere,” Thallemer said.

Remington said healthcare workers are getting disheartened after seeing case after cases, month after month. “It takes the air out of your sails just a bit,” he said. “It feels preventable to them, and I would say it is.”