INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana is reporting just under 3,000 Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID-19. Doctors call the surge a dire situation. It’s leading three top health systems to issue an urgent plea.
IU Health, Community Health Network and Eskenazi Hospital are unified under one message: “We can’t do this alone.”
“We just want to get the word out is that it’s a dire, dire situation and we need everyone’s help,” Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network, said.
“People are still on ventilators. People are still dying of COVID,” said Dr. Michele Saysana, chief quality and safety officer at IU Health.
The rise in cases has caused hospitals to run out of beds, so they’ve created an advertisement signed by medical executives urging Hoosiers to protect themselves.
“There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for the health and well-being of our fellow Hoosiers. But sadly, COVID-19 has tested the limits of what health systems can accomplish on their own. And now, almost two years into the pandemic — desire, expertise and modern medicine are simply not enough.”
“If you can stay healthy and stay out of the hospital, that will help us take care of the sickest of the sick,” Yeleti said.
Doctors are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves through vaccination, masking and testing.
“All the major systems in Indianapolis — we’re all in lockstep on this message to get vaccinated because we know it works and it is sad and disappointing that there’s a lot of hesitancy and distrust in medicine, in pharma and in the government. That leads to a lot of people not trusting their healthcare providers, but maybe looking at things that friends, family, opinions, social media, etc. and making decisions that we worry are compromising their health,” Dr. Graham Carlos, intensive care physician at Eskenazi Health, said.
Hospital officials also urge people with mild cases of COVID-19 to avoid the emergency department and instead seek care at a MedCheck or Urgent Care facility.
Yeleti says this is the worst point of the pandemic, and doctors are bracing for omicron.
“Unfortunately, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel at the moment for the next four weeks because omicron is just coming, so I kind of see this tsunami coming and I’m really anxious on what do we do. We have a few barricades up for the tsunami, but they’re going to crash right down, so we’re really trying to figure out, scratching our heads on what we could do,” Yeleti said.
“It’s really important for the community to understand, especially at this time of the year around the holidays, how busy our hospitals really are, how full they are and how hard everybody is working. I don’t think we thought we’d still be in this position at this time last year. We had the hope of the vaccine last year and we really given the current vaccination rates really are encouraging people to get vaccinated because we’re still seeing such an increase in cases in the hospital,” Saysana said.
Community Health Network, IU Health and Eskenazi Hospital say the majority of their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
“We are looking at what to do if and when we see a dramatic increase in COVID patients, and what to do if a significant percentage of our staff has to quarantine for getting a mild case of COVID,” Yeleti said.
Carlos shared a message for other healthcare workers: “You need to put your own life vest on first, you need to sharpen your ax and take care of your family and your loved ones or else you can’t take care of anybody else.”