MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – Doctors say they are losing healthcare workers vital to taking care of coronavirus patients in intensive care units. Hospitals and state data show our ICUs are at capacity.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is affecting people at much younger ages this year including the nearly 600 people currently hospitalized.
“What we have also seen is in our facilities is a lowering of the overall age of our ICU cases. In particular in our severe illnesses,” says Intermountain Healthcare Infectious Disease Doctor Todd Vento. “So we might see a patient that is 40-50 instead of say 60-70.”
Doctor Vento says that’s because those over 60 are vaccinated well above 80 percent.
“The vaccine is really a tool that needs to be utilized at much higher numbers to prevent our current situation and we need help from the public the community and everyone to push that message to get vaccinated so we don’t have the situation at our hospitals,” says Dr. Vento.
The Utah Department of Health tells ABC4, Friday one of the eight COVID deaths included a girl ages 15-24 from Wasatch county. She is one of 27 people in the county to die from the virus.
“So when you get near folks with Delta, it’s a lot different than a year and a half ago, you can transmit much more easily,” says the doctor. “Our ICUs are over capacity, we are over capacity. That’s on our numbers, that’s on individual healthcare numbers that are tracking (them), and that is also on the state numbers which the state tracks. So there is really no other numbers that are being hidden. Those are the facts.”
Because of the number of cases Intermountain Healthcare is seeing, doctors say they will need to use more Telehealth for patients.
Dr. Vento adds,” And what is coming around the corner? Flu season, respiratory virus season, and the difference this year is we are not masking much. Last year we had record lows respiratory virus infections.”
Dr. Vento says beds and ventilators are available, but part of the reason ICUs are full is the lack of medical staffing.
“We are losing healthcare workers for being fatigued, for being demoralized, for being tired of doing 18-20 months of doing the same thing, asking, begging, and pleading for the same assistance from the community for help.”
Until that help arrives, Intermountain Healthcare is postponing 130 surgeries because doctors can’t recover the person in the ICU due to Covid.