LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky leads the nation in the most hospitalizations per 100,000 population according to data from the COVID-19 Forecast Hub website.
Researchers predict that if the current rate of hospitalizations continues, in the next two weeks hospitalizations could jump up by more than 11%.
"Right now, what we're seeing is that about a quarter of our patients are COVID[-19] related about half of our admissions are COVID[-19] related," said Dr. Ryan Stanton, an Emergency Department Physician and an EMS Medical Director in Lexington.
Stanton also said patient volume is also going up.
"In August, my emergency department treated 1,200 COVID[-19] patients," Dr. Stanton said. "And so we're still seeing a lot as across the board, you know, from, from young folks in their 20s, and 30s that are very sick to those in their 50s, 60s, 70s. But the current theme is still that probably 90% of those that remain in the hospital are unvaccinated and the sickest of the sick that we're seeing are unvaccinated."
With daily increases in inpatient volumes, Dr. Stanton said Kentucky hospitals are at the brim.
"Right now, we're all full. And, we're dealing with borders. Borders means admitted patients that are staying in the emergency department because a bed's not available. All of us are dealing with that right now. All of us have big capacity issues," Dr. Stanton said.
Even with limited resources, Dr. Stanton said the positive note here is Kentucky isn’t at a point of rationing care compared to other areas in the country. But there are areas in Kentucky seeing a shortage in supplies like some treatments are. At least one hospital in Eastern Kentucky is out of monoclonal antibody treatment so it closed its clinic.
"You know, every hospital now is facing bed shortages, staffing shortages, throughput challenges, increased waiting times in emergency departments, deferral of elective procedures, you know, so we're all dealing with that right now," Dr. Stanton said.
According to COVID-19 Forecast Hub, the 7-day daily average hospitalizations reported for Kentucky sit at 435. In the next two weeks, those predictions jump to 511.
"I have had days, in the last month where I come in the emergency department, and every single bed that is open is filled with a patient that has been admitted to the hospital already with no new beds or no open beds to see new patients. we honestly are at a very difficult point right now with that very easily and many hospitals could be pushed over the edge," Dr. Stanton said.
His main message has three parts.
"Most importantly avoid COVID[-19], get the vaccine, avoid high-risk situations," Dr. Stanton said.
He said the peak in COVID-19 cases has plateaued and he’s hopeful to see a downward trend next month but warns flu season is just around the corner.
The forecast website shows Kentucky coming in 6th for rising COVID-19 cases and 7th in the national death rates.