TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Hospitalizations in Kansas are on the rise as coronavirus cases in the state increase.
Health officials in the state say that hospitals are under pressure as they struggle with staffing shortages and try to keep up with the influx of patients.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said the spike in coronavirus cases are a concern, as hospitalizations don’t lag far behind.
“We really are really concerned about the capacity of the hospitals,” Dr. Hawkinson said. “An increase in cases of COVID-19 that are coming to the hospital are going to continue to add to that stress, and the overall ability to treat patients with COVID and without.”
At the University of Kansas Medical Center, Hawkinson said hospital beds are “fairly full.”
It’s a similar trend across other parts of the state. The latest state numbers show 75% of ICU beds in Kansas at max capacity. This comes as coronavirus cases are also on the rise. As of Tuesday, CDC numbers indicate that all counties in the state are at high transmission rates for coronavirus.
Cindy Samuelson, a spokesperson for the Kansas Hospital Association, told Kansas Capitol Bureau that while there’s been an “uptick” in cases, it’s nothing compared to last year around this time.
“They’re facing a lot of the same challenges, like continuing to have enough staff to handle patient care needs,” Samuelson said. “It’s a mix, but based on where you are in the state.”
In Shawnee County, Tuesday’s CDC data shows 79 new hospital admissions.
Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka reported having to turn away 40 transfer patients in the last three days, with 16 of those being COVID-19 related. With no staffed beds available, the facility turned away patients from Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska.
While the majority of patients filling intensive care beds are seeking treatment for other issues, Dr. Hawkinson said the increase in cases is straining limited resources, making it harder to take care of other people seeking help.
“If you do have a large number of cases, in even a small percentage that go to the hospital, that small percentage can be a very great number,” he said. “We know that the large number of cases will lead to a larger amount of people having to go to the hospital, and that will affect care and overall hospital capacity.”
At Stormont Vail, 66% of hospitalized patients have not received a vaccine.
Hawkinson also said the vast majority of patients he’s seeing are unvaccinated. Right now, he said the hospital has 1 vaccinated person out of the about 36-39 active infections they’re handling.
“For months now, the vast majority of people going to the hospital have been unvaccinated,” said Hawkinson. “The vast majority of people dying have been unvaccinated. The vaccines are to help protect you and reduce your risk of going to the hospital.”