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Coronavirus surge sends many Hoosier hospitals 'over 100 percent occupancy'

In recent weeks, new cases have reached the highest level to date.

INDIANAPOLIS — As a record number of Hoosiers battle COVID-19, more Indiana hospitals are reporting a struggle of their own: finding beds for patients and relief for frontline workers.

“All Hoosiers should be alarmed at the COVID-19 trends we are seeing across the state,” said Brian Tabor, Indiana Hospital Association president.

“Many hospitals are reporting staff shortages as the pandemic takes its toll. Hoosier nurses, doctors and other front-line hospital staff have been working non-stop since the early spring,” Tabor said in a statement Tuesday.

In recent weeks, new cases have reached the highest level to date, and hospitalizations have increased by 143% since Oct. 1, according to Tabor.

Dr. Christopher Mansfield, Chief of Adult In-Patient Medicine at IU-Health’s West Region, said hospitals in Lafayette, Frankfort and Monticello were “over 100 percent.”

“When I mean 100 percent occupancy, that literally means we are occupying every adult bed in our facility,” said Mansfield. “We are populating areas now, like our ambulance bay, which we've transitioned into an in-patient holding area while they're waiting to get a physical bed in the upstairs part of IU Arnett Hospital.”

Mansfield said administrators were talking Tuesday about whether to scale back elective procedures to allow for more room and more staff to help.

“We can't take too much more from a surge standpoint. Otherwise, we (may) not have physical space, so we're trying to utilize what we've got in the smartest way most efficiently,” he said.

Reid Health in Richmond provides medical services to east central Indiana.
This week, the health system broke a record for the number of COVID-19 patients. Dr. Thomas Huth told 13News the strain is taking a toll on hospital employees as well.

"The stress of working with the COVID-19 patients, the stress of trying to manage the rest of the system around them to create space, that introduces exhaustion,” Huth said. 

“Please give these courageous health care heroes some much-needed relief by wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, washing your hands and staying home when you are sick,” said Tabor. “We need everyone to take these steps to relieve the enormous strain on the system at this critical time.”

(13News reporter Matt McCutcheon contributed to this story.) 

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