Passavant Area Hospital CEO Dr. Scott Boston says hospital beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients, and this time around, it’s mostly younger unvaccinated individuals in dire need.
Boston says the Delta variant has hit the community very hard resulting in a serious surge of patients at Passavant with a greater impact than last fall. He says hospital staff, including himself, are becoming worn down by the latest surge of COVID patients being admitted to the hospital.
“The total number of COVID patients in the hospital isn’t quite as high as we had last fall, but the severity of illness is an order of magnitude greater. We have sixteen COVID patients, actually, I think it’s seventeen now. We just had one admitted from the E.R. this morning. Almost half of those patients, seven of them are on ventilators and eight of them are in the Intensive Care Unit.
So there is a much greater severity of illness, and the people who are being affected by this surge of COVID-19 because of the Delta variant are younger.
Boston says it’s fortunate that well over 80% of those age 65 and older are vaccinated in the area.
“They are not ending up in the hospital and certainly not ending up in the ICU. But it’s the younger crowd that has not been vaccinated, we have forty years old’s, fifty year old’s in our ICU on ventilators that are very ill, gravely ill. It just takes a tremendous amount of resources to provide the care that they need. We actually today have ten ICU patients in a hospital that had nine ICU beds.”
Boston says because Passavant currently has more ICU patients than ICU beds, the hospital administration has had to take drastic contingency plans. He says the hospital has been operating under the emergency operation plan for well over a year however, this past weekend the hospital had to enact its contingency plan for an influx of critically ill patients.
The post-anesthesia unit, which is reserved for those who are recovering from anesthesia after surgery, has been converted into a satellite ICU unit in order to handle the growing number of intensive care patients.
As of Monday, 43.12% of Morgan County has been vaccinated against the virus. Boston says that number needs to climb, and vaccine hesitancy needs to drop. He says people can trust the vaccine.
“It works. If we want to get through this, if we want to get to the other side of this, to get back to some old normal or new normal, the vaccination is what will do it. We’ve got very good hard evidence that if you’re vaccinated, you don’t end up in the ICU, you don’t end up on a ventilator.
This Delta variant is a challenge for us and there are some people who are having some breakthrough cases, but they are not the ones who are overwhelming the health system right now. The patients that are not vaccinated are the ones that are suffering.”
The Morgan County Health Department continues to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. Call 217-479-1817 or go online to morganhd.com to schedule an appointment.
Vaccinations are also being provided at Walgreen’s and the Walmart pharmacy in Jacksonville.