Average of 85% of Colorado ICU beds in use, the highest amount since November

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DENVER (KDVR) — The number of intensive care unit admissions has been steadily on the rise this summer as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to spread.

Some hospitals are reporting staffing concerns and are even reaching capacity limits, according to the Colorado Hospital Association.

Because of this, Colorado hospitals and healthcare systems have reactivated Tier 1 of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center to help transfer patients from different hospitals throughout the state.

“Throughout the pandemic, Colorado hospitals have worked collaboratively to ensure that they had sufficient space, staff, and supplies to provide care for all Coloradans who needed it,” said Darlene Tad-y, MD, CHA vice president of clinical affairs. “The CHTC helps us efficiently use all the resources available in our hospitals throughout the state to provide lifesaving care for Coloradans who need it. At a time when we don’t know how large this surge may be or how long it may last, this type of resource will be crucial to our response.

Statewide, an average of 85% of ICU beds is in use. That’s the highest it’s been since Nov. 20.

97% of COVID patients in Larimer County ICUs are unvaccinated

Larimer County is struggling the most. Its ICUs have reached capacity.

“They don’t have enough people to care for the people. We have the beds, but you may not be getting great care,” said Tom Gonzales with Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. “You are seeing one disease occupying much of our beds, and it’s predominately the unvaccinated population.”

In Larimer County, 40% of all the patients are COVID-19 patients, and 97% of all COVID-19 patients there are unvaccinated. The majority of the remaining 3% are immunocompromised.

UCHealth postponing non-urgent procedures

UCHealth representatives explained to FOX31 on Monday how capacity is hard to measure because beds can always be added. However, the problem is staffing, stretching healthcare workers thin as more patients arrive.

“We are hearing our healthcare workers have a variety of emotions, from exhaustion to anger to sadness,” Gonzales said. “They are just getting through the days, and then they are being asked to work weekends and night.”

UCHealth said it’s still a long way from the situations many ICUs faced in early December. Since last winter, hospitals have improved how they can create more capacity and utilize nurses.

UCHealth has also been postponing non-urgent procedures to 3-6 months out.  

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