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KY Doctors Warn They Are Pushed To The Limit: "We Need To Keep ER's Available"

UK HealthCare

Doctors with Lexington hospitals urge vaccinations as the number of COVID cases pushes medical staffs to their limits.

“It’s gotten more infectious over time and we need to do everything we can do to protect ourselves from this threat, “said Dr. Roger Humphries, the Chair of Emergency Medicine at the University of Kentucky. He was joined by health leaders from Baptist Health and CHI Health Thursday for a COVID-19 update. They all agreed that the rapidly spreading Delta variant was creating a record number of cases and filling ICU beds. 

Dr. Humphries said, “It’s already causing tough decisions about capacity and who we can accept.”

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Daniel Rodrique with CHI Health joined his colleagues in dispelling rumors about the vaccines, saying that while they still have emergency authorization, they are no longer experimental and more than 4.5 billion doses have been administered safely worldwide. Dr. Rodrique said while vaccinated people can still get infected, most aren’t getting as sick as those who are unvaccinated.

"It’s about a 20/80% split. An encouraging note is the vast majority of people that are vaccinated are not getting severely ill so that is a great message. People have got to take that home because when it comes to controlling this, we will not be able to control it with just masking and social distancing. We have to be vaccinated.”

And with the significant surge of COVID patients in the last few weeks, you’re asked not to go to the emergency room unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“Really the ER’s need to be reserved for those patients that are having shortness of breath, chest pain you know with COVID,” Dr. Humphries said, “just so that we can keep the ER’s open and available for the sick patients with COVID and all the other patients with emergency conditions that need to get in like heart attacks and strokes and trauma and all those kinds of things.”

Dr. Rodrigue said along with an uptick in hospitalizations, patients are getting younger and the Delta variant is hitting them harder.

“When you cannot breathe,” Rodrique said, “when it feels like you are breathing through a straw. That’s scary. That’s not something you’re going to stay at home with. You can’t breathe. All of a sudden you can’t walk across the room. That’s a lot of times when they’re showing up to the hospital. They’re really…they’re sick.”

On the flip side, if you are having a non-COVID-related emergency, you should head to the ER. Dr. David Dougherty is an infectious disease specialist with Baptist Health Lexington.

“Really we are not seeing transmission in the hospital. Our hospital workers, if they get sick it’s usually in the community. They’re getting it from their family members or their friends. And so this is a very safe place and you really do need to come if you need help for another medical condition.”

Dr.’s Humphries, Rodrique and Dougherty all say staffing is playing a major role at their healthcare facilities. While beds may be available, they won’t have enough medical staff to care for everyone if the number of COVID patients continues to grow.

As of Thursday, there were 72 COVID inpatients at the University of Kentucky, seven were children.