DENVER (KDVR) – January could mark the darkest period of an already dark winter in Colorado. Government health officials warn, if current trends continue, Colorado hospitals will reach maximum intensive care unit bed capacity around Jan. 15.
If maximum capacity is reached, Coloradans can expect to see the state’s convention center and local gymnasiums doubling as hospitals. The death rate will also increase, according to officials.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis reported 25 ICU beds remained available in Denver. He said three were open in Weld County, five in Pueblo and 14 ICU beds were reported as available in Colorado Springs. He described the current availability as “very low numbers.”
“Even today, when a hospital says that they’ve got X number of ICU beds, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have staff to take care of patients that might need to be in those beds,” said Mike Burnett, response coordination officer with Northeast Colorado Health Department.
As of Tuesday, more than 30 hospital and health care facilities across Colorado reported anticipating staff shortages. The shortage of hospital staff is due to high demand and health care workers contracting the virus, according to Burnett.
Currently, one out of every 41 Coloradans are contagious, the governor said during a Tuesday press conference. That’s the highest percentage of contagious Coloradans so far.
With so much of the nation in the midst of a surge, hospitals have found it difficult– if not impossible– to import additional healthcare workers.
HealthONE hospitals have started incentive pay for employees in conjunction with contingency staffing models, according to the health system.