Hospitals across NE Kansas feeling strain with recent COVID surge

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 6:56 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Hospitals in Northeast Kansas continue to experience stress with the uptick in COVID-19 patients and shorter staffing levels.

Stormont Vail Health in Topeka recently modified their policies to accommodate both challenges.

The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus reported Thursday their critical care unit is 95 percent full and seven staff members are isolated.

In Manhattan, Ascension Via Christ Hospital President Bob Copple said the spike in COVID patients adds to the stress of an already busy time of year.

“We’ve had six COVID-positive patients in our ICU for well over a week and they’re all on ventilators,” he explained.

“No one recovers from that stage of COVID quickly and it wouldn’t surprise me if a week from now those six patients are all on ventilators in those ICU beds.”

Coppler said many non-COVID patients are prone to being transferred.

That stress is also fueled by the second challenge of dealing with a smaller staff.

“Every time you lose somebody, you basically take a bed out of service,” he said.

“Any hospital who’s lost five nurses, which isn’t too bad considering turnover, they just took five beds out of service and that’s why you see the pressue not just in Kansas but everywhere having actually less capacity now than when we started the pandemic.”

Copple said what needs to be done now is to protect the workers.

“If they’re sick, we have a problem very quickly,” he said.

“That’s why it’s so important to have the community mitigation strategies because our staff lives in the community and I know people don’t like to mask or social distance but there is a downstream impact.”

Copple said in planning sessions for how to improve the facility, he discussed plans for expanding the intensive care unit.

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