Utah doctors report overcrowded hospitals, urge public vaccination

Coronavirus Updates

UTAH (ABC4) – Even with the Centers for Disease Control’s recent approval of booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, doctors at Intermountain Healthcare say they are still overwhelmed by a high volume of COVID-19 patients in hospitals throughout Utah.

Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Disease Physician Eddie Stenehjem says, “When you look at the number of COVID patients in our hospitals, the majority are still unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.”

Today, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reported over 1,600 additional cases of COVID-19 in Utah, with 530 people currently in the hospital suffering from the virus. Last month, Intermountain Healthcare postponed all non-urgent surgeries to reduce ICU admissions. Those ICU beds still remain at capacity.

Doctors are pleading with Utahns to get vaccinated as the holidays near. As ICU beds remain full and doctors are adjusting urgent surgeries to offer same-day care, it doesn’t always mean patients can be treated immediately when urgent care is needed.

Adam Burgeson, Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Director of Surgical Services at Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital in Provo says, “The difficult thing is that these patients require that surgical care or an overnight stay, their quality of life is being impacted by the delay in care. Most people are understanding of the situation. We try to communicate frequently with them regarding the potential timing of surgery.”

Doctors continue stressing to the public the importance of considering the health of loved ones and their surrounding community.

“Start to think about the community as a whole,” says Dr. Edward Prince, a surgeon at Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital. “Think about your grandmother or your relative who might need one of these urgent surgeries and can’t get it done.”

This week, the CDC approved the COVID-19 booster shots for those who have already received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots. CDC officials also approved the mixing of booster shots, meaning a person can receive a different series of vaccine boosters than their original vaccine series.

“It’s a recommendation that allows the convenience of boosting across the general public,” says Stenehjem.

However, Intermountain Healthcare Doctors are still encouraging Utahns to get the booster shot that matches their original series when possible.

Health officials at Intermountain Healthcare say as we get deeper into the winter months, it’s critical for everyone to take proper precautions to prevent further transmission of the virus.

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