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Southern Ill. continues to have low number of available ICU beds

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:51 PM CDT
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CARTERVILLE, Ill. (KFVS) - Hospital leaders in southern Illinois say they’re witnessing a health crisis.

At one point this week, the region had no ICU beds available, most filled with COVID-19 patients.

“It’s been traumatic. The patients that were seeing in this current wave of the pandemic, they’re coming in they’re younger, they’re coming in sicker and they’re staying longer,” said Arien Herrmann, manager for the Region 5 Hospital Coordinating Center.

Herrmann said as of Wednesday afternoon, five ICU beds were available in the region, which includes most of the southern Illinois counties.

The number of ICU beds is fluid throughout the day.

“Now, we currently have 38 patients with COVID-19 occupying one of those 88 beds, so almost half of our ICU capacity right now is filled with COVID-19 patients,” said Herrmann.

An issue hospitals are running into in our region is finding an open bed to transfer a patient to.

“So whereas it may simply in the past been a matter of transferring a patient from Carbondale to Herrin or from Herrin up to Mount Vernon. Now we’re looking at going past St. Louis, possibly as far as Kansas City, Missouri,” Herrmann said. “I know we’ve had patients sent down to Nashville, Tennessee; Indianapolis, Indiana.”

Pinckneyville Community Hospital does not have an ICU.

Director of Quality and Risk Management Blake Thornton said they’re having to call multiple places outside of the region to transfer sicker patients.

“So we’re looking anywhere from 1 to 3 hours on average as far as accepting facilities for those ICU available beds. Calling as many as 25 to 30 hospitals before we even find a bed,” said Thornton.

He explained how the longer transfer time can be vital to your health.

“It not only takes resources as far as transportation out of our region. It’s harder to get these patients transferred, it’s taking longer to get patients transferred that need that higher level of care, which can be detrimental,” he said.

Heartland Hospital in Marion is also experiencing a high number of COVID-19 patients.

Their statement regarding ICU beds says:

“Heartland Regional Medical Center has nine ICU beds. Currently, eight ICU beds are filled with patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Our patient volumes and acuity levels may change by the hour. ICU bed availability continues to be a challenge in southern Illinois due to the influx of critically-ill COVID patients.”

Hermann added that hospitals are usually at capacity, but the pandemic is creating a health care crisis.

“Hospitals, they’re always at capacity anyways so they’re really at the breaking point with this additional strain that’s been placed upon them,” he said.

Herrmann also said that overnight stay surgeries are being canceled due to the high number of COVID-19 patients.

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