While the pandemic has ebbed and flowed for much of the public, doctors within the health system said that they feel they’ve been in constant crisis mode for two years.
“We’re sort of always feeling like we’re waiting for the Jenga tower to fall, and we just never know when that’s going to come,” Wyoming Valley Medical Center emergency room Dr. Essie Reed said.
The crisis in hospitals is complicated by other factors beyond just the latest COVID-19 surge. A staffing shortage fueled by burnout is impacting health care networks nationwide. Geisinger officials also added that many people are choosing to get procedures done now that they put off earlier in the pandemic.
“We’re starting oxygen on COVID patients in the hallway, and those hallway beds are often double and triple bunked,” Reed added.
Geisinger has nine hospitals in Pennsylvania, although the issue is not contained to its system. Other health networks are also feeling the surge. UPMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Donald
Statewide, the number of hospitalized people increased by 9 percent from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6. The average daily number of hospitalizations has risen from 3,276, to 3,787 for the week ending on Sunday. Overall, the state now has just 15.5 percent of its adult ICU beds available and 11 percent of its pediatric ICU beds available.
This is the highest that the hospitalization rate has been in the state since late January, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, before the vaccine was widely available.
PENNSYLVANIA — A major hospital chain in Pennsylvania has exceeded its capacity amid the current COVID-19 surge, causing delays for patients and leading officials to warn the public about the rate of cases and hospitalizations. It comes at a time of uncertainty as the new omicron variant arrives in the state.
Geisinger, which is one of the largest chains in state, said on Wednesday that it is operating at 110 percent capacity and that patients have been waiting for up to 10 to 20 hours in its emergency rooms. Emergency room doctors said that, in many cases, they are practicing “waiting room medicine” to address the overload.
“Folks waiting for beds has sort of become a common theme, every minute of every hour of every day,” Dr. Jaewon Ryu, Geisinger’s president and CEO, said during a news briefing.