December 9, 2022

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Hospitals in Colorado are on edge due to a new COVID outbreak and staffing shortages

Image Courtesy: ABC News

Dr. Diana Breyer, a critical care physician at UC Health, told media that "our hospitals and ICUs are filling up with patients who are going on ventilators and many of them are dying."

As winter approaches, hospitals across Colorado are dealing with a fresh COVID-19 outbreak, with people pouring into health-care institutions. Front-line workers are nonetheless bearing the brunt of the state’s latest wave, with staffing shortages worsening already-existing problems.

Dr. Diana Breyer, a critical care physician at UC Health, told media that “our hospitals and ICUs are filling up with patients who are going on ventilators and many of them are dying.”

According to federal data, more than 1,500 patients in Colorado are being treated for COVID-19, the greatest number of patients in nearly a year.

Every day, almost 230 residents are admitted to the hospital, with state data showing that more than 94 percent of intensive care beds are currently in use across the state.

According to a modelling analysis released earlier this month by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado School of Public Health, the number of persons currently sick is approaching the pandemic’s peak, with 1 in 48 people in the state predicted to be infectious.

“I wish people could see what I see now that COVID-19 is causing another spike,” Breyer added.

Breyer, who is presently caring for some of the sickest patients at three UCHealth hospitals in northern Colorado, expressed alarm at the significant increase in the number of patients she is seeing.

Hospital
Image Courtesy: ABC News

“We are seeing younger patients in our ICUs as a result of this rise. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve observed patients of various ages “According to Breyer, the vast majority of these individuals are unvaccinated. “We’re seeing people become very ill and die as a result of this sickness, and these people don’t need to die right now.”

Colorado health professionals, like many other front-line workers across the country, are overworked and weary, resulting in crucial staffing shortages.

“It’s challenging to care for so many COVID-19 patients,” Dawn Sculco, chief nursing officer at Bellevue Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, told media. “Just the issues of how long they’re here with us, as well as the burden that it puts on the staff.” “This is an all-hands-on-deck situation from an organisational standpoint.”

Colorado health officials said late Tuesday that the state had reactivated crisis standards of care for staffing health care facilities to help manage the influx of patients in need of care across the state.

“We want Coloradans to know that they can and should continue to get the health care they need. Please go get help if you’re unwell and need it “In a statement, Colorado Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France said. “By enacting staffing crisis standards of care, health-care organisations may maximise the amount of care they can deliver in their communities with the resources they have.”

Dr. Matt Mendenhall, chief medical officer of Centura Littleton Adventist Hospital, told media that his staff is exhausted and overworked, and that the work is “only getting harder.”

“When our hospitals are overburdened with patients, everyone will receive care that differs from what we normally provide. And this can cause delays, as well as, unfortunately, worse outcomes “Breyer remarked.

Concerns that the pandemic will worsen in Colorado in the coming weeks prompted Gov. Jared Polis to take additional executive action, allowing all residents over the age of 18 to receive a booster shot six months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two months after receiving their Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Boosters are only allowed under current federal recommendations for the elderly, individuals with underlying health concerns, and those considered to be at high risk of infection.

Hospitalisation
Image Courtesy: ABC News

In an executive order signed on Thursday, Polis designated “the whole State of Colorado high risk for exposure or transmission of COVID-19.”

Colorado officials also announced this week that medical surge teams from the Federal Emergency Medical Agency had been sought for understaffed medical institutions.

Polis signed a “urgent” executive order earlier this month allowing the state’s health department to direct hospitals to transfer or stop accepting patients if they reach or approach capacity.

To help end the pandemic and prevent severe disease and fatalities, health officials continue to urge Americans to be vaccinated, and to get their vaccines boosted if they are eligible.

Approximately 62.3 percent of Colorado’s overall population is completely vaccinated at this moment, placing it 14th among states.

“There’s a lot of disinformation out there,” Breyer added. “People are at the end of their rope when I see them. They’re nervous and afraid, and some of them will die if they don’t get on a ventilator soon. And all I desire is that we could figure out how to persuade more people of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. It is, without a doubt, the most effective technique for preventing people from ending up here.”

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