Hospitals are seeing an increase in patients and while COVID-19 may be responsible, many of the patients have unrelated illnesses.
“We are seeing sicker patients than normal, but they are not COVID patients,” said William Haugh, Georgetown Community Hospital’s CEO. “Because of COVID, people were afraid to seek treatment earlier this year, so when they come to the hospital now they are sicker then if they had sought care earlier.
“That’s happening statewide. Hospitals are busy, but it’s not always COVID patients.”
Even so, the number of COVID-19 cases in increasing statewide and so is the number of hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients. Between Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, the number of hospital beds in use statewide increased 9.5 percent, although ICU beds in use statewide declined by 9 percent, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
Kentuckians hospitalized due to the coronavirus increased to 994 on Sunday, compared to 964 on Saturday. A record 250 patients are in ICU statewide, an increase from 236 on Saturday. Of those in ICU, 136 are on a ventilator, compared to 117 on Saturday.
WEDCO Health District’s statistics for Scott County show 31 people hospitalized.
“There is no doubt the number of positive COVID cases is rising,” Haugh said. “But on the local level — Scott County — our COVID hospitalizations have ben consistent for two or three months. Statewide, COVID hospitalizations are up, but here it is flat or down.”
The increase in statewide hospitalizations is alarming, but Kentucky’s hospitals are prepared, he said.
“Every hospital has surge plans and we’ve had them since March or April,” Haugh said. “But we are not having to use our surge plans.”
Statewide statistics show nearly 29 percent of Kentucky’s hospital beds are unoccupied, which indicates hospitals can handle a surge if it occurs.
Kentucky’s hospitals are working well together, Haugh said. It has not been uncommon for Georgetown Community Hospital to send patients with severe issues to hospitals in Lexington, but what has been a pleasant surprise is those hospitals are sending patients to GCH whose condition has improved to us in order to keep their beds available, he said.
Hospitals are also better equipped for COVID patients now than when the pandemic began.
“We now have some proven therapeutics that help COVID patients,” Haugh said. “I’m not a doctor, but we have some therapeutics that are having positive results.”
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.