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'Eerily Reminiscent Of Last Year': Kentucky Hospital Workers Sound Alarm On COVID Rise

AP Photo/David Goldman

In a sign the COVID-19 upswing is nowhere close to slowing, some Kentucky hospitals are setting up new units to deal with a surging patient census. 

That news was one of many troubling details described by healthcare workers who spoke as part of Gov. Andy Beshear's weekly Team Kentucky update Thursday. As another wave of COVID patients threatens to undo the state's progress, the Beshear administration is working to put a face on the mounting stress and burnout plaguing hospitals.

"Our COVID ICU is currently full and we've opened a fourth COVID unit," Dr. Stacy Caudill, Chief Medical Officer at King's Daughter Medical Center explained.

"What we're seeing is a lot of regret from patients and family members that they chose not to vaccinate and are now dealing with some pretty dire consequences," Dr. Joshua Bryant, also with King's Daughter, said.

It's a situation nurse executive at Thomson-Hood Veteran Center Katie Gross described as "eerily reminiscent of last year."

Health authorities estimate Kentucky could reach record-level hospitalizations within the next two weeks, if current trends persist. More than 15% of acute care hospitals were already reporting staffing shortages this week -- a problem likely to affect the state more than a lack of bed space.

Asked if Kentucky might use state agencies to seek additional medical staff, Gov. Beshear said he hopes renewed safety precautions will keep the patient numbers down.

"Currently our goal is to use our mitigation efforts to make sure our hospitals aren't overrun," the governor said.

Meanwhile, the state's public health commissioner has recommended that Kentuckians with non-urgent inpatient procedures scheduled in the next few weeks consider postponing them as hospital staffing is stretched.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.