Local hospital ICU’s reaching breaking point as COVID-19 surges

Local News

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Dire warnings coming true Tuesday as COVID-19 patients are filling hospitals across Central Illinois and the United States leaving workers questioning if this is the breaking point.

On Tuesday, nearly 1200 people across the state were battling the virus in intensive care units (ICUs). Local hospital administrators are preparing for the worst and are worried if things continue down the tumultuous trend, people may not receive the care that they need.

Local hospitals nearing their breaking point as local ICU units and beds continue to fill with patients battling COVID-19. Vice President of Support and Ancillary Services at Carle-Bromenn Medical Center Tim Bassett said it’s a battle to keep their departments staffed and beds available.

“Generally speaking we’ve seen anywhere from 80-90 percent close to 100% capacity for ICU which is concerning,” Bassett said.

As of Tuesday, 88% of ICU beds in McLean County hospitals are in use by COVID and non-COVID patients. Bassett said they’re building back-up plans as patients keep coming.

“We can establish as many physical beds as we want, but if we cant provide the clinicians and care for the bedsides; that’s our concern at this time,” Bassett said.

Bassett said right now staffing isn’t an issue at Carle-Bromenn but said he’s worried about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s ‘surge upon a surge’ following holiday travel.

“Right now we’re already at unprecedented numbers,” Bassett said “It just gives us concern of what we will possibly see after Thanksgiving and after Christmas, heading into the peak of flu season.”

In tri-county hospitals, 53 patients are currently receiving intensive care for the coronavirus and doctors are racing to save lives of not just COVID patients, but other patients with other illnesses too.

Dr. Samer Sader is the chief medical officer for UnityPoint Health hospitals in the Peoria region. He said emergency surgeries and crash victims also take up ICU beds.

“A lot of different illnesses are competing for a fixed amount of resources,” Sader said.

Sader said as cases and hospitalizations climb, he’s worried about the number of staff available and said hospitals may see a repeat of the spring.

“It is concerning because we are running on a pretty high census right now and if we added another 10-15% some of those scenarios I described will become a reality,” Sader said. “As the number of positive in the community increases, the likelihood our clinicians and nurses also get COVID and cannot work increases.”

Some of those scenarios include pulling back on elective surgeries and temporality shutting down clinics to have staff on hand for COVID patients. Sader said that’s a last-ditch effort.

“We’re very reluctant to do that because we do know people who delay their healthcare, ultimately we all pay a price,” Sader said.

Sader said as of now, no services or surgeries have been postponed, but urges community members to stay patient for vaccines and treatments to become readily available.

Both Bassett and Sader said they remind the community of the three W’s; wash your hands, watch your distance and wear a mask.

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