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Hutchinson woman shares hospital experience after being turned away due to COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus in Kansas

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Hospital capacity continues to be a concern for Kansas health officials. Governor Laura Kelly says some hospitals are being forced to move patients out-of-state.

That was nearly the fate of one Hutchinson woman, Keely Connolly.

Since birth, she has had to deal with kidney issues which lead to stage three kidney disease and now kidney failure. Connolly has now been on dialysis for kidney failure for three years.

Saturday, Nov. 14, unable to breathe and with high levels of potassium, she was rushed to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.

“They told me that they didn’t have any beds. They were sending people to Denver and Tulsa and they would likely have to send me out-of-state,” she said.

Connolly fearing the worst, “My first thought was I don’t want to die in E.R. My second thought was about my daughter, like, what is she going to do without me?”

Fortunately, for Connolly, they found a bed for her in Salina.

Hutchinson Regional Medical Center says her situation is becoming too common.

“It saddens us. You know we’re in the business of taking care of people,” said Chuck Welch, vice president for the Hutchinson Regional Health System.

“We certainly don’t want to do that. We certainly do everything we can to avoid it but when your hospital census is 56-65% COVID and you know your beds are being filled up, there’s not much you can do,” Welch said.

Other local hospitals are facing the same issue with intensive care unit beds, making it tough to find spots for patients.

“They might make between three and 10 calls per patient trying to find them just one bed,” Welch said.

Welch says the hospital has seen a 600% increase in COVID-19 positive patients being hospitalized since October.

As the holidays approach and cases surge, Connolly hopes Kansans will be vigilant to protect their others.

“It might not impact them personally, they might not get sick. Their friend might lose a parent or they might lose a friend or you know, I might be that friend they lose because people with chronic conditions are still out there and we still need treatment.”

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