Delaware hospitals fill up amid COVID surge

Delaware hospitals fill up amid COVID surge
Photo courtesy of Beebe Healthcare

Hospitals in the state are reporting being filled beyond 100 percent capacity as COVID cases continue to climb in Delaware.

They have postponed elective surgeries to help free up beds, and leaders say their resources are being strained.

With Delaware's seven-day average at 743.4 new positive cases this week, Gov. John Carney is again talking about “flattening the curve,” and in a press conference on Tuesday asked residents to wear masks indoors in public settings, even if they’re vaccinated, along with taking other precautions like social distancing.

Carney was joined by hospital officials, including Sharon Kurfuerst, chief operating officer for ChristianaCare, who said the influx of new COVID cases is combined with people who put off health care during the pandemic ending up in the hospital. It is “really straining our health care system and resources," she said. Their hospitals are often at 110 percent or more of capacity, emergency departments are incredibly busy and crowded, and patients are waiting longer than usual for care, Kurfuerst said.

“Our ability to continue to provide care is without a doubt threatened” as volumes increase, she said. In addition, hospitals here, as nationwide, are also dealing with staffing shortages.

“(Staff) see avoidable illness every day as the result of COVID, much of it among the unvaccinated,” she said, calling for people in the state to follow guidelines, get vaccinated and get the booster if needed.

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Dr. David Tam, CEO of Beebe Healthcare in Sussex County, gave a similar account of full emergency rooms and waiting rooms.

“We’re tired. We need help, and the help you can give us is by taking care of yourselves, and if you are in a situation where you have to wait, be kind (to health care workers)."  

Hospitals are not yet limiting patients in the same way they did in the wave of a year ago, which contributes to the crowding.

On Thursday, the state was reporting 392 hospitalizations for COVID, with 51 cases critical.

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