Midwestern Hospitals Are 'Bursting at the Seams' with COVID Patients as Cases Continue to Soar

Overwhelmed hospitals in cities including Kansas City, Missouri, have had to turn away ambulances for lack of space

Health Care Professionals Work On The Frontlines Of COVID-19 Pandemic In Maryland Hospital
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Midwestern hospitals are “bursting at the seams” with new COVID-19 patients as the number of new daily infections continues to soar in the region.

Health care workers in several states, including Oklahoma, Missouri and North Dakota, are warning that their hospital systems are already overwhelmed as the states continually break their own records for the most new COVID-19 cases in one day.

In Kansas City, Missouri, eight hospitals had to temporarily turn away ambulances of new patients on Wednesday night after they ran out of space, Marc Larsen, an emergency physician and director of St. Luke’s Health System’s COVID response team, told the Kansas City Star. At 1 p.m. the next day, five hospitals were still unable to admit patients unless they were having a stroke or heart attack, or suffering from a life-threatening injury.

“We’re bursting at the seams in the metropolitan area, and really across the state and the region,” he said.

After averaging around 150 cases a day in April and May, COVID-19 infections in Missouri have soared. The state reported a record-breaking 3,717 new cases on Oct. 14.

St. Luke’s Health System was treating around 15 COVID-19 patients a day in May and June — in contrast, they hit a record 100 patients earlier this week.

“I worry that if we don’t start taking this seriously as a metropolitan area, we’re going to be the next New York,” Larsen said. “We’re going to be the next hot spot, because though we have a lot of hospitals, we have a lot of capacity in the area, we are filling up fast.”

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In Oklahoma City, hospitals were completely out of intensive care unit beds on Tuesday morning, and the city’s medical response director said she had to send patients out of the region to get treated, KOCO News reported.

Up north, in Wisconsin, health officials opened a field hospital at the Milwaukee state fairgrounds after hospitalizations nearly tripled in the last month.

“We hoped this day wouldn’t come, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is in a much different, more dire place today and our healthcare systems are beginning to become overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. “This alternative care facility will take some of the pressure off our healthcare facilities while expanding the continuum of care for folks who have COVID-19.”

Along with the shortage of available beds, Wisconsin is dealing with staffing shortages, "largely due to staff members experiencing infection or exposure to the virus in their communities," State Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said, according to CBS News.

Wisconsin hit a record-breaking 4,039 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases are once again nearing the record-breaking levels last seen in July. On Thursday, there were 65,151 new infections in the U.S. and 703 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 8,019,900 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 217,585 have died, according to The New York Times.

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