INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Hospital Association is sounding the alarm that COVID-19 hospitalizations are at record numbers, the number of people on ventilators is up, personal protective equipment is in short supply, and hospital staffs are being hit with increasing numbers of positive cases.
Dr. Christopher Doehring, medical director at Franciscan Health Central Indiana, told News 8 the supply of personal protective equipment, also called PPE, is starting to tighten up and the hospital operation doing everything it can to make the protective gear last.
The Indiana State Department of Health reported Tuesday that 2,951 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 5,500 new positive cases were tallied in the state in the latest daily report. More than 262,000 Hoosiers have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 4,700 Hoosiers have died of it since the beginning of the pandemic.
Franciscan has experienced a sixfold increase in COVID-19 patients since the start of October. Five percent of its medical staff is out either in quarantine or sick with the virus. Five percent may not sound like a huge amount, but Franciscan Health and other facilities do not have ready reserves of people.
The Hospital Association told News 8 that hospitals in the northern and southern parts of Indiana are being hit hard, and many of them are at capacity and sending patients elsewhere. Staffing remains the No. 1 issue at all Indiana hospitals, and some hospitals are considering using medical staff that are asymptomatic to treat COVID-19 patients.
“The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that is something that we should consider in a crisis — and, I think we are nearing or now in that crisis — but that does require even with COVID patients you have to have a lot of PPE and it takes additional cleaning of those sites,” said Brian Tabor, president of Hospital Association.
No Indiana hospitals currently use asymptomatic medical staff members to treat COVID-19 patients, but, if the staffing crisis continues, their use could become an option hospitals may be forced to consider.
Hospitals are anticipating this coronavirus surge to last at least a couple more weeks.