COVID-19 hospitalizations are reaching numbers similar to January in El Paso County; may impact scheduled surgeries

Data chart representing  the number of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated COVID patients being cared...
Data chart representing the number of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated COVID patients being cared for by UCHealth in Colorado. 9/16/21(UCHealth/El Paso County Public Health)
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:13 PM MDT
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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - El Paso County Public Health is reporting regional hospital capacity is strained as they experience a surge of COVID-19 patients.

On Thursday, the health agency announced the regional hospital capacity will move to level “orange-red” on the data dashboard from level “orange.” Click here to visit the data dashboard. Under level “Orange-Red,” hospital capacity is strained, potentially limiting surgeries and procedures. This current level also means hospitals are experiencing “resource limitations.”

“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, chief medical officer for UCHealth Memorial. “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. There are countless stories elsewhere in the nation of people not receiving the care they need because hospitals are overburdened by COVID cases. Across the country, COVID is impacting patients who need care for other urgent, life-threatening issues, such as stroke or heart failure. We don’t want it to get to that point in Colorado. I urge everyone: Please get a COVID vaccine and get a flu vaccine.”

As of Thursday, El Paso County’s vaccination rates were at 67.8 percent of eligible residents who have received at least one dose, with 61 percent fully vaccinated. El Paso County ranks near the bottom in terms of having the lowest vaccination rates when compared to the top 10 most populous counties in Colorado.

“Across our county and Colorado, our hospitals have been extremely busy taking care of all who need our services. The continued rise in patients with COVID-19, ~90% of whom are unvaccinated, as well as other acute medical/surgical needs has challenged our resources. As such, we have needed to hold patients on the medical floors. We have also begun postponing those surgeries that can reasonably wait. We are so very grateful to our incredible caregivers who have been consistently going above and beyond during these trying times,” said Dr. William Plauth, chief medical officer for Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Hospital. “The vast majority of our COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. We continue to encourage all in our communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccines are safe and effective and are the best way to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others.”

For more information on where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine in El Paso County, click here.

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