The spike in COVID-19 cases that’s creating renewed stress on health care systems across the nation is causing dangerous staffing shortages in hospitals across Kentucky.
In his press briefing Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear said there are at least 21 hospitals in Kentucky with a significant shortage of staff.
One of the hospitals that took part in the briefing was Baptist Health Hardin in Elizabethtown.
“We are no different than any other facility in the state of Kentucky. We are facing staffing challenges amidst rising patient volumes," said Sharon Wright, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Baptist Health Hardin. "Many of our staff are quarantined from COVID exposure. Some have retired. Some have resigned and left health care entirely.”
In emphasizing the unprecedented strain on hospitals, Gov. Beshear reported that Baptist Health Hardin currently has 91 COVID patients – nearly double the 56 COVID patients it had during the surge last December.
The governor said the hospital has 20 ICU beds, with 18 currently occupied by COVID patients, almost all of them unvaccinated.
Another hospital taking part in the briefing was The Med Center in Bowling Green. Katrina Wood is chief nursing officer at the hospital.
“The Medical Center at Bowling Green is at capacity. Critical care units are full. We are unable to accept patients from outlying facilities that we normally take, and that need our help and we want to be able to help them," said Wood. "Our emergency departments have patients holding for critical care almost every day. The way the community can help us to be able to take care of you is to get vaccinated.”
Across Kentucky and the nation, hospitals report that the vast majority of COVID patients have not gotten the vaccine.