TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Kansas doctors are seeing more deaths from severe coronavirus infection, showing just how serious the highly contagious delta variant really is.
Dr. Salah Najm, vice president of Acute Services at Stormont Vail Health in Topeka, said the hospital has an influx of patients, like other hospitals across the state.
Compared to this time last year, the doctor said deaths resulting from severe illness have increased.
“A year ago, our mortality averaged approximately 1.8-2% mortality from COVID-19 severe infections. This year around the mortality we’re seeing higher; around 2.5-5% mortality,” Dr. Najm said.
Dr. Najm said the hospital’s also seen a surge of younger patients coming in with signs of infection.
This comes as hospitals across the state are reporting intensive care units filling up, which has stretched an already dwindling number of healthcare workers “to the max.”
Hospitals have pointed to the Delta variant, which health officials have said is more than twice as infectious than other strains of the virus, as a reason for the spike in patients. State numbers released Wednesday show that, so far, 4,287 Delta variant cases have been identified in Kansas.
With hospitals reaching max capacity, some states have started to consider rationing treatment, or using “crisis standards of care.” While the Kansas Hospital Association said that measure has not yet been considered in Kansas hospitals, the time it’s taking significantly longer to transfer patients in need of critical care.
According to officials at Motient, a company that helps equip hospitals with tools needed for medical transports, it’s taking five hours longer than earlier this spring to transfer patients to other hospitals in the state.
Dr. Martin Sellberg, CEO and Medical Director for the company, said it’s taking even longer to find available beds for coronavirus patients. Their data shows a nearly 12-hour increase to find beds.
Sellberg said hospitals are struggling to keep up in Kanas.
“What we’ve found is that the at capacity or near capacity is by far the dominant. This is why you hear those stories of patients crossing state lines or waiting extended periods of time to get an ICU bed. If you need a COVID specific unit, the wait is even longer,” he said.
As of Wednesday, state data shows that 76% of intensive care beds in the state are full.
Health officials have urged people to follow safety measures and get vaccinated to avoid the risk of severe infection, resulting in a trip to the hospital.
To access the latest state-reported coronavirus data, click here.