FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - As of Monday, Nov. 9, there 262 people in Northeast Indiana who are hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Health officials say they are growing more concerned that if the novel coronavirus continues to spread like it is now, the healthcare system could be compromised.
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There are 273 sites across the state.
The blue ones are Optum sites and you do not need insurance.
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Allen County Health Commissioner Matthew Sutter, M.D., says "The hospitals are starting to feel the strain."
Right now, hospitals are not doing anything different, and there's no change to the current visitor plans. Sutter explained, "They're not having to change their normal operations, they’ve not exceeded their surge capacity, but if these trends continue, they certainly could."
Vashal Bhatia, M.D., Regional Chief Medical Officer with the Lutheran Health Network says on Friday, the network reached the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations than at any other time during the pandemic at 110. They have since dropped to 100. However, he explained they’re currently on plan A, saying the hospital group is continuing to care for both COVID and non-covid patients.
If they start to reach capacity though, Bhatia explained part of their plan, saying "We will convert other rooms so we can convert them into COVID care zones and again. Then there’s a plan C and then there’s a plan D, and then at that stage, you get to a non-conventional mode of care for patients and we talk about surge capacity and disaster management."
The plan is similar at Parkview. A Parkview spokesperson tells FOX 55 they have the ability to move COVID patients to area facilities to remain below capacity, but they’re getting more concerned as they’re now caring for 50-70% more COVID-positive patients than at the peak in the summer.
However, Sutter says that the measure of surge capacity being the availability of ventilators no longer makes sense.
"Our surge capacity is really going to be about people to take care of the sick people," Sutter said. "As we start to see more spread in the community, we have more people who can’t go to work as nurses and respiratory therapists and doctors to take care of these sick people."
Parkview officials echoed that same sentiment, saying "When it comes to capacity, our most precious resource is staff. We’re seeing more co-workers being unable to work due to COVID exposure. The vast majority of those cases are coming from community exposure, meaning they’re being exposed outside of the workplace."
Sutter says the concern is mounting, saying "It would not surprise me if, by Christmas, we are seeing significant problems with the hospitals if the present trends continue, but again we have the ability to change that, but we have to change our personal behaviors."
Lutheran, Parkview, and the Allen County Health Department are continuing to stress the importance of mask-wearing, hand washing and social distancing.
But Sutter says with family holidays such as Thanksgiving coming up, which is when they tend to see COVID spread the fastest, he’s “gravely concerned” about a sharp increase in cases after the holiday since he says there’s no way for families to be socially distant and enjoy dinner because the indoor space isn’t big enough.