Local hospitals accepting COVID-19 patients from around state despite nearing capacity

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RNurse Kristina Shannon, from left, chaplain Andrea Cammarota, and Emergency Room charge nurse Cathy Carter watch as medical workers try to resuscitate a patient who tested positive for coronavirus in the emergency room at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. Hospitals across California have all but run out of intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients, ambulances are backing up outside emergency rooms, and tents for treating the sick are going up as the nation’s most populous state emerges as the latest epicenter of the U.S. outbreak. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

INDIANAPOLIS — Central Indiana hospitals are accepting COVID-19 patients from around the state because ICU’S are filled to the max at other hospitals.

Last week, the Indiana State Department of Health reported more than 2,800 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 – the largest number since last January.

“It’s really unlike anything we’ve experienced so far throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Christopher Doehring, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Franciscan Health Indiana.

A spike in patients now has smaller hospitals asking larger health systems for help.

“I’ve received four calls already today from other hospitals asking to transfer patients into Indianapolis,” said Dr. Graham Carlos, Executive Medical Director at Eskenazi Health.

Dr. Carlos says some health systems are too full to accept more patients. “Our ICU and hospital are as high and as full as we have ever been,” Dr. Carlos said.

Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis has so many patients — it’s asking ambulances to take them to other Ascension hospitals.

It’s had an increase of 26 COVID hospitalizations in just the last 11 days across all hospitals.

“We’ve had so many challenges with keeping our beds open because of you know, the decline in staffing,” said Dr. Doehring.

Dr. Doehring said since mid-November, the number of COVID hospitalizations at Franciscan has increased more than three-fold.

“We’re not turning patients away,” said Dr. Doehring. “We are unfortunately, as are a lot of hospitals, having to go on ambulance diversion, just because of the risk of being in an unsafe situation.”

A spokesperson from Community Health says it’s extremely full but is continuing to try and accept as many patients as they can from smaller surrounding hospitals.

Still – health officials say it’s not just COVID-19 positive patients filling up beds.

“In the last couple, two, three months, all of those patients who used to not come to the hospital are back with strokes, heart attacks,” Dr. Carlos said.

With the emerging Omicron variant and cases of influenza on the rise, Dr. Carlos worries health systems will continue to be overwhelmed with no relief in site.

“We are anxious about the coming months,” Dr. Carlos said.

Health officials say they will not turn anyone away, even if they are at full capacity.

A patient might be diverted to another hospital but doctors say they will make sure every Hoosier receives the care they need.

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