Wichita hospitals are out of ICU beds. But what exactly does that mean?
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - If you're familiar with the Sedgwick County COVID-19 dashboard, you'll notice there are 208 total ICU beds at Wesley and Via Christi combined. But, just because that's now maxed out again for the first time since February, doesn't mean they're turning people away. At least not yet.
"They've had to hold hands with patients, repeatedly with patients who are dying and having their last breath," said Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns.
Minns said Wesley and Via Christi are at max capacity as COVID cases continue to climb.
"It's a little complicated. It's not just base. It's also staffing. And you can't just put these patients in a room on a ventilator and walk away. You have to have staff that are monitoring them every minute," said Minns.
Minns said this doesn't necessarily mean they're turning away patients who need care. It means they'll start having to use space meant for other things, and spread a scarce staff even thinner.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Thomas Moore has been in the middle of it since day one of the pandemic. In a text to KAKE News, Moore said, "We are drowning… The unvaccinated are overwhelming us," saying he's only had two hours of sleep in the last four days.
"I'm told by the doctors and hospitals that it's almost entirely unvaccinated people," said Minns.
While it's hard to get an exact number, Dr. Moore estimates only about one in 100 COVID patients in Wichita hospitals are vaccinated, and said the only two vaccinated patients he's personally treated left unscathed.
"We're really concerned if it continues to rise to this rate, something's going to have to give. So, does that mean we have to start shipping patients out somewhere else, or provide, find other ways to get more staffing? So it's a real concern for the hospitals," said Minns.
Dr. Moore said while they haven't yet, if ICUs continue to stay overwhelmed, they'll eventually have to stop things like elective surgeries and restrict visitors like they did last winter.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Two Wichita hospitals are out of ICU beds as COVID-19 cases increase in Sedgwick County.
Wesley told KAKE News on Tuesday that it had 63 COVID-19 patients and seven patients under investigation for COVID-19. Of the 63, 33 are in the ICU with 10 on ventilators. Wesley said nearly all hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.
Via Christi told KAKE News on Tuesday, "Our hospitals, while relatively full, are admitting and discharging patients all day, every day, so it is an extremely fluid situation in all our ICUs. We currently have 15 patients being treated for COVID-19 in the ICU."
Chief clinical officer at Ascension Via Christi Dr. Sam Antonios said the community COVID-19 numbers are concerning and urged residents to get vaccinated.
The last time there were no ICU beds available was on Feb. 8. At that time the hospitals were seeing 126 COVID-19 patients and 45 were in ICU beds.
On Tuesday, the county reported 168 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the pandemic total to 51,997. There are 662 total deaths.
On Sunday, the county's 14 day rolling average was 8.6%.
This story has been updated with new information from Via Christi and Wesley.