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Hospitals discuss surge plans as ICU beds are filling up statewide

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PEORIA (WEEK) - COVID-19 patients took up about a fifth of ICU beds occupied throughout the state of Illinois. At Unity Point Health Hospital, ICU bed occupancy was even higher at 90 percent.

"We have 10 patients in the ICU with COVID-19, eight of them are on ventilators,” Dr. Praveen Sudhindra said. Sudhindra is an infectious disease and critical care physician at UnityPoint. He said UnityPoint was not yet at capacity but if they got there the hospital would have found beds in other units.

"These are very hard decisions to make, kind of rationing out scarce resources," Sudhindra said. "As far as possible, we try to treat everything the way we normally would. We want to give the best care to everybody all the time, but sometimes hard decisions may need to be made."

Bed shortages did not just affect COVID-19 patients. If ICU beds filled up all emergencies would have been affected.

"It can absolutely impact the way care is provided to non-COVID related issues as well," Sudhindra said. "It can affect the ability of hospitals to conduct routine surgeries both elective and emergent and it can have a knock on effect on other hospital areas as well."

Dr. Sudhindra said the best way to combat the surges was to if people got vaccinated.

"The first thing everybody should do is to get vaccinated," Sudhindra said. "We know at this point, eight or nine months after the vaccine have become available that they are quite safe and they are very effective."

The CDC said the COVID-19 vaccines was effective in preventing severe illness as it related to COVID-19.

In a statement, OSF said they have plans in place for surges.

"We have an emergency operations plan for each hospital that contains a surge plan. It will allow us to increase our general and/or ICU beds as needed. Hospitals have been running through those scenarios with leaders, Mission Partners and medical staff," OSF said.

India Afriyie

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