COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- 13 Investigates has learned Colorado Springs hospitals are taking a small number of patients from out-of-state as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
"Colorado is feeling the strain of not only the rest of the country but also strain within our own region on those increasing COVID numbers," UCHealth Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Steinbruner said.
UCHealth said it had received bed requests from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisana. Hospital officials say many of the states requesting to transfer patients are overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and don't have the capacity to care for patients.
"It's very surprising to us that we were getting calls from Texas and Louisiana and other places. This is a new development, which really got us in a position of having to be very thoughtful about saying, can we actually take this patient?" Dr. Steinbruner said.
Now, roughly 2% of the people admitted in the UCHealth hospital system are from another state. Federal law requires hospitals to effort to transfer patients if it has the capacity. Most of the out-of-state patients being transferred to UCHealth are trauma patients.
However, UCHealth said Coloradans should not be concerned because they prioritize beds for residents should they need the care.
"If somebody needs to come into our hospital because of COVID in our location in Colorado, we're going to find space," Dr. Steinbruner said.
Data shows that UCHealth hospitals in Colorado are currently caring for 46% fewer COVID-19 patients than this winter.
Centura Health is also accepting out-of-state patients from its owned and affiliated hospitals. A spokesperson for Centura says it can transfer patients within its system as needed to maintain capacity.
"Centura Health hospitals, like other hospital systems in Colorado and elsewhere, have seen an increase in COVID-19 patients over the summer as the Delta variant has spread in our communities. However, the number of patients with COVID-19 is still far lower than we saw in the winter. Although our hospitals are busy, all of our facilities have the capacity to care for everyone in our communities who need us," Becky Brockman said.
Centura said it could also expand its capacity for COVID-19 patients, if necessary.
The El Paso County Public Health Department said it works closely with the local and regional hospitals to monitor the evolving situation with COVID-19.
"The current capacity is fair but good, with concerns for the near future based on rising hospitalizations and census numbers," spokesperson Michelle Hewitt said.
Public health leaders say recent data shows that 90% of the recent COVID-19 hospitalizations in our area are people who have not been fully vaccinated.
"The best way to prevent hospitalization and death is for all individuals 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccines are safe, and they are highly effective at reducing the risk of serious illness, including hospitalization and death," Hewitt said.