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Beshear: Kentucky hospitals facing staffing shortage

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FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky is again reporting a new record of the number of people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, according to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

As of today, Monday, Aug. 30, the Kentucky Department of Health says that number is at 2,198 Kentuckians hospitalized with 615 patients in the ICU and 384 on ventilators.

“We are all overwhelmed at this time. To share our story at Baptist Health Corbin, this morning when we came in, we had a census of 175, all of our ICU beds, our PCU beds, our telemetry beds, our med surge beds are all full. We have no more capacity in those beds. We’ve made the decision to close our surgery department to allow us some extra space should it be needed and utilize that staff to take care of patients as well,” said Sherrie Mays, MSN, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer for Baptist Health Corbin.

“The thing I would like to ask is, please get your vaccination. That’s the one thing you can do for our community. The other thing you can do for our community is pray for our patients, and pray for our staff and our physicians that they can be resilient during this pandemic and that we can get through it as quickly as possible.”

Sherrie Mays, MSN, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer for Baptist Health Corbin

Beshear says while some hospitals are becoming full, there are still available beds in hospitals across the state to allow for patient care, however, hospitals are now facing the challenge of staffing shortages. He says the state and Kentucky National Guard will be taking action to help these facilities.

The KY National Guard will be deployed to support COVID-19 response efforts in hospitals. This includes administrative duties and COVID-19 testing to allow hospital staff to focus on patient care, Beshear says. The governor also urged Kentuckians to not go to the emergency room just for the purpose of getting a COVID-19 test. He said the better options are to go to a testing site or other location to keep emergency rooms open for patients with severe illness or injuries that need immediate attention.

The governor says three FEMA EMS strike teams will also be arriving in the Bluegrass State on Friday, Sept. 3 to assist in patient transports and patient care. They will remain in the state to assist through Sept. 25. Two additional FEMA EMS strike teams have also been requested for areas that need additional assistance due to an increased need for patient transport.

According to Beshear, state health officials are also working to recruit nursing students to help staff area hospitals that are in need of additional assistance.

Once again, the governor pleaded with Kentuckians to help stop the current surge by getting vaccinated against the virus. As of Monday, 2,619 new cases bring the state to an overall total of 572,517 COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic. 752 of those new cases are in Kentuckians ages 18 or younger.

The state’s positivity rate is currently 13.45%. Both the Kentucky Department of Health’s current incidence rate map and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Data Tracker map list all 120 counties as having a high-risk transmission rate.

“We’re in exponential growth. This is what we always wanted to avoid,” Beshear said. “We continue to be hit harder and harder with this delta variant… This isn’t just people getting COVID; it’s them being sick enough to end up in the hospital.”

Beshear also confirmed 25 new deaths related to the virus, bringing the total to 7,741 deaths throughout the pandemic.

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