• 79°

Heavy burden on hospitals; consequences from non-vaccination

Who is going to make the decision about who is going to get the ICU bed and probably live and who is probably going to die?
Ballad Health’s hospital beds are near full, most with COVID patients, and many without the vaccines. It’s the same story across the state of Tennessee. Tennessee has continued its streak of setting a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations each day in the month of September. The Tennessee Department of Health reported 3,798 coronavirus patients were hospitalized statewide, as of Thursday, breaking the record-high of 3,775, which was set just one day prior.
The same day Ballad Health announced for the fifth day in a row that its facilities are treating a new record of 413 patients as well as a record number of patients in the ICU (100) and a record number in the ICU using a ventilator.
This follows as officials announced the health system is preparing to treat 500 COVID-19 patients amid a surge that shatters records seen last winter.
As of Thursday, Ballad was caring for 721 patients who are positive with or suspected or being COVID-19 positive — this includes those receiving care in its facilities along with Safer at Home patients.
Also, Ballad reported there have been 48 COVID-19 related deaths in its 21-county service area in the past seven days.
The positivity rate jumped to 40.2 percent from the previously reported 39.7 percent on Tuesday.
And, get this, compared to statewide vaccination rates, Ballad’s service area trails behind Tennessee’s rate of 42.2 percent fully vaccinated. And, Carter County’s vaccination rate is even less — 31.26 percent of the population have received two doses. However, in recent days the vaccination count in Carter County has reached 39.555 so it appears that the message is getting out: Get a vaccine!
Carter County has had 188 COVID deaths and as of Thursday had 724 active cases. Over the last seven days, the average positive percentage in Carter County was 25.7 percent. Most of the cases are occurring in persons in the age brackets of teens and young adults. However, COVID is no respecter of age. It strikes all age groups.
With hospitals full of COVID, it means the healthcare staff is overworked; elective surgeries are delayed, there are longer waits in the emergency rooms for those sick with other life-threatening ailments such as heart attacks, pneumonia, appendicitis, gall bladder attacks, kidney stone attacks, etc.
With the COVID-19 infection running wild again and the hospitals filling up with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, there could be a major problem within the next couple of weeks with the limited number of ICU beds available in this city, county and state. If only one ICU bed is available and three patients arrive at the hospital at the same time, who is going to make the decision about who is going to get the ICU bed and probably live and who is going to probably die? For instance, a patient with a very bad case of COVID-19, who has not received the vaccination, arrives at the emergency room. Another patient suffers a heart attack and requires major surgery is also at the emergency room, and a third patient, who was riding a bicycle and was hit by a car, is also in the emergency room. Major surgery may be required on that person. Who gets the ICU bed?
This type of decision is very hard on everyone involved. But someone at some time in the very near future is going to be forced to play God if COVID cases continue to climb.
Remember, COVID is the enemy — not each other! We all want herd immunity, and our lives back. Follow the experts’ advice — get the vaccine. It’s our best current option. May we all stay healthy and alive. Wear a mask, socially distance, stay out of crowds as much as possible, and for Heaven’s sake, get vaccinated!