INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise and hospitals are preparing for a surge of new cases and people ending up in the hospital.
“We’re actually now making contingency plans for the worst surge ever,” Chief Physician Executive at Community Health Network Dr. Ram Yeleti said. “Previously we maxed out at close to 200 [COVID-19 patients], I’ve asked our teams to ask what if we end up at 250 patients.”
Dr. Yeleti says if the hospital reached that level that would mean 25-35 percent of the system’s beds would be occupied by COVID-19 patients.
“It has massive ramifications, first of all there is just not enough beds in this city to handle that,” Dr. Yeleti said.
Dr. Paul Calkins is the Associate Chief Medical Executive at IU Health and says we’re likely experiencing a surge on top of a surge. Calkins says after the surge of the Delta variant in September the numbers never came down to an acceptable level before going up again.
“There may be a few people alive that saw the flu kill millions of people in 1918 but other than those people nobody has ever seen anything like this before,” Dr. Calkins said.
Hospital officials told us one of the main factors driving the surge is the colder weather and the nearly 50 percent of Indiana residents that remain unvaccinated.
“This comes as no surprise to anyone in the medical profession,” Dr. David Dunkle, CEO at Johnson Memorial Health, said. “This is what we keep telling people is going to happen, it keeps happening and not enough people are changing their behaviors.”
Dr. Dunkle say this is the time of year they normally see people coming in with other respiratory diseases such as the seasonal flu. Adding COVID-19 patients on top of that makes things that much worse.
“99 percent of all hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals. 99 percent of all deaths related to COVID-19 are among unvaccinated individuals,” Dr. Shaun Grannis, VP of Data and Analytics at the Regenstrief Institute said. “I think that that data is pretty stark and pretty clear in terms of what the opportunities are here.”
Dr. Yeleti at Community Health Network echoed the same point.
“Over 90 percent of our patients are unvaccinated and it’s still a pandemic of the unvaccinated no question about that,” Dr. Yeleti said.
Other hospital systems like Ascension St. Vincent have seen increased in their COVID-19 censuses as well.
Doctors we spoke with say the best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated.