A ‘never-ending nightmare:’ The hospitals where the ICU occupancy stayed high

Well being and Human Companies hospital-level information solely goes again to July 2020, and excludes hospitals reporting fewer than 4 hospitalizations in a given week.

As of the week of Sept. 23, the nation’s ICU capability was about 79 % full on common, and August noticed extra ICUs maxed out than in January, when the U.S. was counting greater than 3,000 Covid deaths a day and earlier than widespread Covid vaccinations.

“It has been robust not having the ICU capability, as a result of that is actually the place our bottleneck has been over the month of July,” stated Tena Knight, affiliate chief nursing officer for Southeast Well being in Dothan, Alabama.

“Even as we speak, the variety of ICU sufferers that now we have, we have simply skilled wherever from perhaps 10 to fifteen sufferers which might be needing ICU beds, typically upwards of 20 sufferers needing ICU beds, and there is simply no place to place them.”

This summer season’s Covid surge has solely made issues tougher for packed hospitals. In Alabama, ICUs have been maxed out within the newest surge, and different states have needed to resort to rationing care in sure hospitals.

Idaho started to ration well being care early this month as hospital beds crammed up with a deluge of Covid sufferers. Idaho has one of many lowest vaccination charges within the U.S., with solely 41 % of its inhabitants totally vaccinated, in response to information from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Presently, 55 % of the nation’s inhabitants is totally vaccinated.

By comparability, in New Jersey, the place 64 % of the inhabitants is totally vaccinated, solely 45 % of the ICU beds are crammed.

There are greater than 5,000 hospitals reporting weekly to Well being and Human Companies, with almost 1 in 4 reporting that greater than 90 % of their ICU beds have been full for the week ending Sept. 23. In early June, earlier than the delta variant fueled a case surge, only one in 10 hospitals have been at that stage. Final week’s information exhibits that quantity lowering barely for the primary time since July.

In Florida, about 86 % of the ICUs are full. However information means that the state’s surge has ebbed, with solely 39 hospitals reporting one hundred pc occupancy, down from 50 % the week prior, and down from a peak of 72 % the week ending Aug. 26.

In Texas, information exhibits that ICUs have stayed greater than 90 % full for the reason that center of August, and have stayed round 80 % since July 2020, with a few of its hospitals reporting one hundred pc ICU occupancy for months.

In McAllen, Texas, the Rio Grande Regional Hospital can barely catch a break. Positioned within the southern a part of the state, the hospital has sufficient employees for 20 to 30 ICU beds every week, and information point out they’ve been at full capability for almost your complete yr, and far of 2020.

In an emailed assertion, Adriana Morales, a hospital spokesperson, stated they’re balancing the inflow of sufferers by including employees to extend the variety of ICU beds.

Rio Grande was not the one Texas hospital experiencing repeated weeks of full ICUs. Park Plaza Hospital in Houston has seen 55 weeks of full occupancy since July 2020. HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast in Pasadena noticed 45 weeks of full capability throughout that point. Greater than 200 hospitals within the state have been maxed out at the very least as soon as, however many extra have tread shut, with occupancies of greater than 90 %.

Burnout is one other problem in hospitals going through surge after surge.

“The pressure that well being care staff are beneath is unbelievable,” Zolnierek of the Texas Nurses Affiliation stated. “And it is not ending. It has been a yr and a half now. After the vaccine, everybody was feeling, ‘Oh, my gosh, there is a gentle on the finish of the tunnel.’ After which the delta variant got here, and it sort of feels like this unending nightmare.”

She stated a few of her member nurses will likely be retiring.

“There are some nurses which might be saying, ‘I will dangle on, my colleagues, my sufferers want me proper now. However as quickly as we’re carried out with this wave, I can not undergo this anymore.’”

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