EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- El Paso County Public Health increased the regional hospital capacity alert level as hospitalizations continue to rise.
Beginning Thursday, health officials changed the regional hospital capacity from orange to orange-red on the COVID-19 data dashboard. EPCPH says this comes at the direction of regional hospital and health care leadership.
Health officials also provided data from UCHealth, showing how almost all hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. The data, as of September 16, shows:
- Out of the 265 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at UCHealth facilities, 227 are not vaccinated
- Out of the 98 ICU cases, 87 are not vaccinated
- Out of the 86 patients on ventilators, 78 are not vaccinated
Last week, 246 people were being treated for COVID-19 at UCHealth facilities, 203 of those patients were unvaccinated.
The chief medical officer for UCHealth Memorial says the current patient load is putting a strain on staff and resources.
“UCHealth’s hospitals in the Pikes Peak region continue to see record numbers of patients needing care for COVID and other health conditions. This morning, our hospitals in the region were caring for 90 patients with COVID – a number not seen since early January,” said Dr. David Steinbruner. “This is extremely worrisome, considering we are also about to enter flu season. Unfortunately, COVID continues to be a hidden, silent pandemic that most people don’t see unless it impacts a family member or other loved one requiring hospitalization. But it is very real, and it’s taxing our hospitals and our staff."
At Penrose Saint Francis staff says patients are being put in areas where they normally wouldn't be as well. Officials are also postponing surgeries that can wait. Penrose officials confirmed the vast majority of patients are unvaccinated.
Children's Hospital Colorado said pediatric hospitals across the country are facing mounting challenges as well, including:
- An early start to respiratory season
- The transmissability of the Delta variant
- The pediatric mental health crisis
- The heightended demands placed on health care workforce as more people choose to leave the industry
Steinbruner pointed out how in other areas of the country, some people are not receiving the care they desperately need because hospitals are overburdened by COVID cases.
On September 1, an Alabama man died roughly 200 miles away from his home in Mississippi because nearby hospitals had no specialized cardiac ICU beds available.
According to CNN, 73-year-old Ray DeMonia was turned away from 43 hospitals in 3 states when he was having heart problems. DeMonia died three days before his 74th birthday.
As of Thursday, 67.8% of eligible El Paso County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, El Paso County has one of the lowest vaccination rates compared to the top 10 most populous counties in Colorado.