Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the top worries has been whether the health care system can provide care for everyone who needs it. Much of the focus remains on capacity in intensive care units.
According to the newest federal figures, several Connecticut hospitals are experiencing high occupancy rates in their ICUs.
Doctors and nurses at the ICU at Yale New Haven Hospital said they have been caring for a significantly increased number of patients since mid-November.
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“It’s just remained very busy, effectively, for the past two months or so,” said Dr. Jonathan Siner, the medical director at the hospital’s medical intensive care unit.
New data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows the adult ICU occupancy rate at Yale New Haven Hospital currently stands at 87.9%.
“Effectively, the ICUs are full even though the number says they’re not,” said Dr. Siner. The surge in ICU patients in the spring arrived and exited more rapidly but the situation is much different now, Dr. Siner said. “Everybody’s working very hard and I think people remain very focused. But there’s no doubt that everybody’s fairly tired."
“The vaccines will help but we’re not there yet,” said Dr. Siner. “The message right now is the light is at the end of the tunnel, but we want to get there without losing more.”
Patient capacity data for Connecticut ICUs varies widely. Some hospitals report that they are much closer to full than others.
Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London ICU occupancy stands at 90.7%, while Manchester Memorial Hospital was at 90.9%, as of Friday.
Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam reported an occupancy rate of 92.9%. Three weeks earlier, that rate was at approximately 81 percent.
“We have definitely seen an increase over the past two months,” said John O’Keefe, chief nursing officer at Day Kimball Hospital. “It doesn’t give us a whole lot of wiggle room, quite honestly.”
“It places some unusual strain on the team, but by every means, our team has risen to the occasion and done an a really great job of caring for those folks,” said Kyle Kramer, CEO of Day Kimball Healthcare.
“We’re doing our best,” said Kramer. “I think we’re providing great care to our patients and I couldn’t be more proud of the team.”
At St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center in Hartford, an adult ICU occupancy rate of 94.6% was reported.
“I think we’ve hit our peak -- maybe just past that holiday peak. We’re starting to see it level off, maybe just begin to reduce,” said Dr. Daniel Gerardi, chief of pulmonary & critical care medicine at St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center. “The patients that are in the ICU are so very sick that it takes weeks for them to recover,” he said.
“We have the most dedicated and incredible nursing and therapy staff in the ICU, so we’re able to accommodate and stretch the hospital bounds to accommodate the fairly large number of patients,” Dr. Gerardi said.
More than two dozen Connecticut hospitals report their capacity data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and then the state of Connecticut has been sharing those figures on a weekly basis. Find the most recent data from January 15-21 below: