COVID hospitalization numbers threaten other patient procedures

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Colorado, forcing hospitals to make tough decisions regarding patient care.

On Sunday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 1,296 confirmed COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across the state. The current hospitalization numbers are similar to trends from last winter, but beds are much more scarce this time around. The seven-day average ICU bed use is hovering around 90% or higher.

“We are seeing health care at a breaking point right now,” said Dr. Richard Zane, chief innovation officer with UCHealth.

Zane said in some instances, they may have to consider which patients they can and can’t treat depending on staffing and bed availability.

Sarah Stephens said her nonemergency surgery scheduled at Denver Health was postponed due to COVID-19 and high hospitalizations in September.

“They called and said there was just nowhere for anyone to recover from the surgeries,” said Stephens.

Stephens rescheduled her surgery for the coming week, but fears she could face another last-minute cancellation.

“From a compassion standpoint, it absolutely breaks my heart that the beds are filling up. From a selfishness standpoint, I really pray that it doesn’t affect me this time,” said Stephens.

COVID-19 is not the only driving factor behind the increased bed use throughout Colorado hospitals. Health officials report more people are seeking care for a variety of issues that were possibly put off during the peak of the pandemic. Some say bringing down COVID numbers will alleviate the strain on the system.

Data from the CDPHE shows a majority of COVID-19 patients admitted in the last week were from counties across the Front Range. El Paso County and Denver County were at the top of the list and are also the most populated counties in the state. Weld, Pueblo and Mesa County residents also made up a large portion of COVID hospitalizations in the last week. All three counties have a vaccination rate of 60% or lower.

Statewide, roughly 78% of COVID-19 patients in the hospital are unvaccinated. Zane said large pockets of unvaccinated people across the state are a threat, even to those who have gotten the shot.

“It’s not just that county and that place, because it spreads,” said Zane.

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