Illinois reaches record COVID-19 hospitalizations, additional support being sent to hospitals

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – As Illinois reaches record hospitalizations during the pandemic, additional resources are headed to healthcare systems.

As of Wednesday, more than 7,100 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19. State ICU bed capacity has also dropped to 9 percent.

“We have never had this many COVID patients in the hospital at any point in the pandemic,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of public health director.

Ezike said as the state sees record hospitalizations, healthcare systems struggling with staff, including some that have left the profession.

“Because of the exhaustion, and the stress and the trauma that they’ve endured over the last two years,” Ezike said.

Wednesday, Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker outlined plans for additional hospital support across the state.

“They need help and I’m doing everything I can to support them as they tackle this latest surge,” Pritzker said.

Some efforts by the state include:

  • Deploying more than 2,048 additional healthcare staff to Illinois hospitals.
  • The creation of COVID reaction to respond to emerging crises at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
  • Out-of-state healthcare can now treat all Illinois patients, and not just ones with COVID-19.
  • Doctors that received medical training in other countries can now provide assistance to licensed physicians in Illinois.
  • Out-of-state providers including physicians, nurses, and mental health providers can provide telehealth services to individuals in Illinois.

“We must do all that we can to keep our healthcare workers and institutions operating and available to all who need medical assistance,” Pritzker said.

Ezike says the state is paying a high cost for the extra help, and ideally, the goal is fewer people going to the hospital.

“If 80 percent of those 7,000 COVID patients, if their hospitalizations could be adverted, we would not have a situation that the hospital CEOs and CMOs would be decrying right now,” Ezike said.

In a statement from OSF Healthcare, leaders said they have received assistance from the state:

This winter the state has sent resources to OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville, OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, and OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac.  We have received additional support for OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Evergreen Park at this time, and have requested more resources for all of our entities. We are currently awaiting decisions on additional allocation.

Libby Allison, media relations coordinator for OSF Healthcare

Carle Health leadership said they are monitoring the situation:

We are aware of the additional support offered by the state and continue to evaluate resource needs locally and throughout the system.

Lisa Slater, communications partner for Carle Health

Pritzker and Ezike said both are encouraging the community to get vaccinated and receive a booster when eligible. Ezike also said it’s too early to tell if the Omicron surge is peaking.

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