Local hospitals overwhelmed with rising COVID-19 cases, health officials “frustrated”

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the tri-county area, health leaders said the fourth wave of the pandemic is more challenging for hospital systems to manage than before.

During Thursday’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing, officials gave an update on the current overwhelming nature of the area’s health systems.

Jennifer Hopwood, Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, said currently the hospital is at 90% capacity with only 1% of adult ICU beds available.

“Over the last four weeks, we’ve experienced delays with admitting patients to our in-patient beds, causing further delays in our emergency department and procedural areas, and also accepting patients from regional hospitals who don’t have the services to provide care to patients,” Hopwood said.

She also said in addition to patients having to wait for a bed, they’re also experiencing workforce shortages.

Hopwood said St. Francis medical center currently has 43 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, 32 of which are admitted to the general floor, 11 are in the ICU, and only 7 are vaccinated.

“We have never seen one diagnosis account for so many admissions in those areas for such a significant amount of time,” Hopwood said. “This is what makes the COVID virus challenging for hospitals and health systems to manage.”

She said reaching herd immunity is the only way she believes it is possible to get out of the pandemic. Monica Hendrickson, Public Health Administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department, agreed.

Hendrickson said practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a “must” at this point. But she noted the lack of people getting the vaccine is frustrating, challenging, and sad.

“I’m still concerned and not understanding both personally and professionally how something that is proven to be so effective is not being utilized,” Hendrickson said. “The virus is again acting like a virus, it’s following the same playbook that viruses have followed for eons. It’s our job to be smarter than that.”

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