Letter: A plea to the community from Columbus Regional Health

A view of the Columbus Regional Health sign by the driveway leading to Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, Ind., pictured, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

From Columbus Regional Health

Throughout the past several days and weeks, Columbus Regional Health has been experiencing an unrelenting surge in inpatient and emergency room visits, culminating in record inpatient census on several occasions. Many departments and units hospital-wide are experiencing very high patient numbers, including a consistently large number of COVID-positive inpatients.

Even a year into COVID-19 vaccine availability, inpatient COVID-positive numbers are mirroring the same numbers experienced in December of 2020. COVID patients make up a fourth to a third of our total hospitalizations. Similar to national trends, the vast majority of hospitalized COVID patients at CRH are unvaccinated, running consistently around 80 percent of the COVID-positive inpatient population. These critical capacity limits have put serious strain on vital resources, such as space, equipment and staffing. CRH is not alone in this experience, and the response measures being considered or put into action are the same or similar among peer healthcare institutions throughout the state.

The collective strain being placed on the healthcare systems and medical professionals in our area has immediate and distressing implications to medical services and hospital access to all the patients and communities we serve. At this critical time, every bed counts. For example, the space and crucial resources needed for victims of unavoidable medical emergencies or accidents is in jeopardy, being consumed, in-part, by people being hospitalized by a largely avoidable and preventable disease — COVID-19. The ability for a patient to receive a much-anticipated surgery or procedure is once again at risk because clinical staff and space need to be reallocated. Our frontline staff, providers and physicians who have been at the helm of this crisis for two years are reaching a breaking point. With the omicron variant of the virus bearing down, we anticipate this surge could worsen and we do not have a clear vision of when things will improve.

Columbus Regional Health’s priority remains our patients and the region we serve; however, in this time of crisis, we cannot fulfill this commitment alone. We need your help. The solution is clear, albeit not new. However, it is effective.

  • Get vaccinated.
  • If you are already vaccinated, get your booster.
  • Wear a mask in public settings or gatherings.
  • If you don’t feel well, get tested and stay home except to seek medical care.
  • Have compassion and concern for your neighbor; this affects all of us.

Please remember, it is never OK nor recommended to delay care or avoid seeking medical attention. If you have a true life-threatening emergency, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency department. Staff will be there to care for you. Keep on top of your healthcare by utilizing regular preventive screenings and check-ups and if you have a medical condition, stay in regular contact with your provider. Thank you for your awareness and support during this critical time for our community. For more information visit www.crh.org/virus.