Kansas City hospitals are reaching capacity due to the strain of Covid-19, hospital officials say.
Chief medical officers from seven hospital systems told reporters during a Zoom news conference that city hospitals could be overwhelmed in a matter of weeks.
"If widespread community transmission continues to go up, we will be overwhelmed," said Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical director at the University of Kansas Health System. "That is the inescapable conclusion that we face."
"Covid is the leading admission diagnosis" at the University of Kansas, Dr. Stites said.
The physicians, who earlier briefed local officials on the matter, say hospitalizations in the region are at their highest since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. They say the issue is less about the number of available beds as much as it is about the staffing to support patients who might occupy those beds.
"Basically, there's a staffing shortage, and that staffing shortage is not going away any time soon," said Dr. Stites.
"When we try to go get agency nurses or travelling nurses and things like that, we're trying to borrow from the same pool," he said.
On Tuesday, Kansas City area hospitals had 153 non-intensive care unit beds, but only 76 that could be staffed, and 32 ICU beds of which only 22 could be staffed, according to David Wild, Vice President of Performance Improvement at the University of Kansas Health System. This creates a significant difference from statistics that appear on the US Department of Health and Human Service's database of available beds, he said.
The doctors, while emphasizing that they're not at this point yet, said one unfortunate way to handle maximum capacity would be to ask patients to hold off on elective surgery to help with hospital capacity issues. They said this is a bad option because patients who do not address health issues during the Covid crisis can worsen their outcomes.