Heart attack? Car crash? In Larimer County, at-capacity ICUs could impact the care you receive


LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Larimer County Health Department says all the area’s intensive care units are full as COVID-19 cases rise, impacting non-COVID patients who need emergency care.

If someone has a heart attack or needs some kind of emergency care, like from a serious auto accident, getting help at the hospital could be an issue.

The four major hospitals in Larimer county are sounding the alarm, as their ICUs are at 100% capacity — and in some cases, they have surpassed it.

At Banner Health’s McKee Medical Center in Loveland, 28 of the 38 ICU beds are intubated COVID-19 patients, and they keep coming.

“It’s just really tight. It’s almost one out, one patient in. It’s that rapid,” Banner Health North Region CEO Ron Andro said.

Countywide, more than 40% of ICUs are now being used to treat COVID patients.

Most of them were not vaccinated.

“Our ICU is at capacity and it’s a scary situation. If we have a major car accident, or if you have a heart attack or other trauma, it’s going to be difficult to get that great care in our hospitals,” Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales said.

Some doctors are saying they are treating as many COVID patients now as they did when the pandemic began.

There is even a bigger plea now for hesitant and so-called “wait and see” vaccine holdouts to get the shot and prevent other strains from developing.

“It’s the one thing that, as great as we are in healthcare, it’s the one thing in public health that makes all the difference for all of us,” Andro said.

Doctors say the vaccine would drastically reduce cases and hospitalizations.

The problem is so bad at some hospitals, additional ICU beds are sharing the same space, and it’s taking a toll on medical staff.

“The nursing staff are certainly tired, but they are providing outstanding care to our patients. But it’s just —how long can they carry the water? That’s really the question,” UCHealth North Region CEO Dr. Kevin Unger said.

Starting next week, Larimer County will start administering COVID tests five days a week.

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