Time to find ICU bed nearly triples in Utah amid COVID-19 hospitalizations

Local News

East Alabama Medical Center nurse Harvard Graham checks fluids for a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Opelika, Ala. Just as in other places across the country, a surge in infections linked to Thanksgiving is now filling up beds at the hospital. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Between June and late September, Utah saw a 316% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. This increase – largely due to unvaccinated COVID-19 patients – can have an impact on your hospital care, according to the Utah Department of Health.

“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,” UDOH 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.

COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Utah as of 9/30/21 (UDOH)

“That means anyone who needs care at a hospital or ICU, for any reason (car crash, heart attack, or COVID-19), may not be able to get the care they need,” UDOH says. Currently, Utah is at the ‘deepest’ level, of contingency care. This means surgeries are being canceled, hospitals are seeing severe staffing shortages, patients are being treated in areas of the hospital not normally equipped for their treatment, and patients can’t be transferred to hospitals with the staff and equipment needed or in a timely manner.

UDOH shares the below chart outlining Utah hospitals’ current level on the Continuum of Care.

Utah hospitals’ current level on the Continuum of Care (UDOH)

Under the current burden of COVID-19 patients, UDOH explains patients may not receive the best care they deserve at Utah’s hospitals. Wait times could reach several hours, patients and families may have to travel greater distances for a hospital bed, and care for injuries not immediately life-threatening may be delayed.

From the first week of September to the final week of the month, UDOH reports the wait time to find an ICU bed in Utah jumped from 80 minutes to 225 minutes – an increase of almost an hour and a half.

“The best way you can help protect our hospitals and healthcare workers and limit the spread of COVID-19 is to get the vaccine,” UDOH explains. “Utah communities with low vaccination rates are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. If you’ve waited to get vaccinated, now is the time!”

You can find information about getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Utah at coronavirus.utah.gov.

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