SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – There’s an increasingly urgent situation inside Utah’s Intensive Care Units where doctors, nurses, and technicians say they’re overwhelmed by the recent spike in patients stricken by the Delta Variant of COVID-19.
The recent wave of Delta cases has caused Intermountain Healthcare to reopen so-called “surge ICUs” to handle the influx of severely sick patients. Today, medical professionals on the frontlines described the situation.
“Every time we move a patient out, there’s usually one or two in the ER waiting to come in,” Intermountain Healthcare ICU Nurse Cierra England said. “So it’s just like this constant patient shuffle.”
“We are already at and beyond functional capacity at several of our facilities, so that’s not exaggeration,” Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Diseases Physician Dr. Todd Vento said. “Those are just the facts.”
“We’re just seeing more and more cases again, so I think we’re all feeling a little bit frustrated,” Intermountain Healthcare ICU Critical Care Technician Kaydi Marshall added. “Especially where there is a vaccine and many of the patients we’re seeing are unvaccinated.”
Marshall, who works in a Shock Trauma Unit, says some of those patients say they regret not getting vaccinated.
“Everyone thinks they’re not going to end up in the ICU,” she told reporters Tuesday. “But in reality, you never know, so there have been some patients expressing that to us recently.”
Because so many older people are now vaccinated, the patients this time around tend to be younger.
“I will tell you just from anecdotally talking to providers in our system,” Dr. Vento said. “That they have called and said ‘Hey Todd I had a 20-year-old who was obese and had no other risk factors and he died in our ICU from this Delta strain and 30-year-old and 40-year-old and 50-year-old.”
Seeing the suffering firsthand has Marshall feeling “overwhelmed and just worried about what the future could bring.” “School hasn’t even gone back into session yet so it’s like ‘OK we’re already this bad. How much worse can we get?,” Nurse England said. “Like, how much worse is it going to get?'”
Making matters worse, Dr. Vento says Intermountain Healthcare ICUs are affected by a nationwide shortage of Tocilizumab, one of the medicines used to treat the most severe cases of COVID-19.