ICUs overwhelmed with COVID patients testing Utah nurses physically, emotionally

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Many of Utah’s ICUs are overwhelmed amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

As Intermountain Healthcare continues to see a high volume of ICU patients, driven largely by the delta variant, many caregivers have reached their breaking point.

Maddie Blackburn has been a nurse with Intermountain for three and a half years – over half of her career has been during the pandemic. She says the job has tested her, not only physically but emotionally. As Blackburn treats COVID-19 patients – some for months at a time – she is also developing relationships with them.

“We try everything. Even at the end of those months, we are having to withdraw care of them, and it’s very difficult because we have these relationships we’ve developed, tons of hours spent with family and them, and it’s hard. It’s like we’re losing a friend, not just a patient,” Blackburn explains.

Blackburn is now pleading with Utahns to get vaccinated so frontline workers can treat non-COVID-19 patients, too.

Over the month of September, the time to find an ICU bed in Utah nearly tripled, jumping from 80 minutes to 225 minutes – an increase of almost an hour and a half.

“We are seeing hospitalization numbers as high as, or higher than what we saw during the winter surge on any given day. Nearly all of the patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated,” the Utah Department of Health said Monday. They say in the last week, one Utah health system had to bring providers who usually care for patients in offices and clinics into the hospital setting to provide care.

This leads to less access to outpatient services as hospitals “continue to experience a surge of severely ill COVID-19 patients requiring hospital level-of-care,” UDOH explains. Hospitals statewide are now being forced to implement contingency strategies to preserve patient care as best as possible.

On Thursday, UDOH reported 567 are people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Total hospitalizations from the beginning of the outbreak are 22,594. 

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