Indiana hospitals warn COVID-19 surge could overwhelm them

A coalition of some of Indiana’s top hospital systems warned that facilities are struggling to cope with the surge in COVID-19 patients — a sobering reminder that the coronavirus is still spreading quickly in the state despite the arrival of a vaccine this week.

Posted: Dec 15, 2020 4:10 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A coalition of some of Indiana’s top hospital systems warned that facilities are struggling to cope with the surge in COVID-19 patients — a sobering reminder that the coronavirus is still spreading quickly in the state despite the arrival of a vaccine this week.

With COVID-19 patient numbers hovering above 3,000 for nearly a month, Indiana hospitals are treating more than four times as many as they were in September and administrators fear they soon could get overwhelmed.

“Local hospitals are fast approaching crisis,” the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety, which represents several central Indiana health-system systems, said Monday in a statement.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday added another 129 COVID-19 deaths to the state’s death toll, pushing the overall figure of confirmed or presumed coronavirus deaths to 6,968 since the start of the pandemic. The agency also reported another 4,347 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing the pandemic total to 434,642.

During an online news conference Monday, members of the hospital coalition said they are nearly overwhelmed by a record number of coronavirus patients and painted a grim picture of what has been unfolding in their emergency rooms and intensive care units. They also pleaded with members of the public to continue wearing masks and socially distancing and to forgo in-person holiday gatherings.

December is typically a busy time for hospitals because of flu cases, respiratory infections and other factors. Hospital leaders said that challenge has been compounded by the coronavirus and by the large numbers of staff who are quarantining and unable to work.

Indiana University Health is treating more COVID-19 patients at its facilities than it ever has, said Dr. Michele Saysana, the health system’s chief quality and safety officer. If Hoosiers don’t change their behavior to reduce the virus’ spread, the situation could worsen, as any increase in COVID-19 cases seen from Thanksgiving gatherings bleeds into any surge that follows Christmas get-togethers.

“That’s a real concern for us,” Saysana said. “The holidays are back to back. The way they line up could be a surge on top of a surge.”

Franciscan Health Indianapolis has treated record numbers of COVID-19 patients nearly every day for the past two weeks and has had to stop admitting transfers from other hospitals, said its vice president of medical affairs, Dr. Christopher Doehring.

“It’s certainly stressing us,” he said.

Lee Ann Blue, chief nursing officer at Eskenazi Health, said health workers are worn out from the labor-intensive work of treating the surge in COVID-19 patients.

“This work is physically and emotionally exhausting and you can see it in their eyes,” she said.

Because of visitor restrictions, nurses must watch every day as their patients die alone without relatives by their side, which only adds to the strain, said Jean Putnam, assistant chief nursing officer at Community Health Network.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1665777

Reported Deaths: 27840
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63126111168
DuPage1074651374
Will906981118
Lake795261076
Kane68004866
Winnebago40745559
Madison39883590
St. Clair36147591
McHenry34415322
Champaign26859196
Peoria26749368
Sangamon25613284
McLean22871216
Tazewell20525330
Rock Island18699358
Kankakee17795247
Kendall16104113
Macon15222250
LaSalle14954285
Vermilion14202198
Adams13072152
DeKalb12078133
Williamson11998174
Whiteside8247181
Jackson806594
Boone787583
Coles7843121
Ogle752487
Grundy731786
Franklin7276114
Knox7197169
Clinton7095102
Macoupin6893104
Marion6871143
Henry659876
Effingham655499
Jefferson6492142
Livingston594697
Stephenson577592
Woodford573592
Randolph552399
Christian530382
Monroe5236100
Fulton521674
Morgan503899
Logan492574
Montgomery487680
Lee476960
Bureau441189
Saline431769
Perry430375
Fayette428964
Iroquois418177
McDonough372360
Shelby343147
Jersey334253
Crawford330830
Lawrence329932
Douglas324737
Union305448
Wayne299961
White278533
Richland278457
Hancock271935
Clark264939
Cass264730
Pike262658
Clay257354
Edgar255249
Bond255024
Warren242765
Ford242259
Carroll235638
Moultrie228833
Johnson223831
Wabash216619
Jo Daviess214529
Massac213748
Mason211652
Washington211428
Greene204540
De Witt204230
Mercer202235
Piatt200614
Cumberland188526
Menard171013
Jasper160521
Marshall140921
Hamilton133322
Schuyler106410
Brown10589
Pulaski103711
Edwards102518
Stark80928
Gallatin7848
Alexander71312
Scott7116
Henderson69614
Calhoun6862
Hardin59416
Putnam5604
Pope5446
Unassigned1582433
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532