How to prevent unnecessary deaths
Our infectious disease expert, Todd Kowalski, MD, discusses hospitalizations rates, bed capacity, and how important it is to avoid large gatherings, mask-up, wash-up, and socially distance.
Hospitalization rates and bed capacity explained
With increasing hospitalization rates due to COVID-19 and dwindling bed capacity to care for patients in the Tri-State Region, our community is in crisis. But what exactly does it mean when you hear about "hospitalization rates" and "bed capacity?" They're important terms with life and death implications.
What are hospitalization rates?
Hospitalization rates are rooted in two things: How many patients are in a hospital and how many new people are being admitted to the hospital. Locally and statewide, these numbers are skyrocketing.
"If one looks at the curve, it heads near due north," says Gundersen infectious disease expert Todd Kowalski, MD. "That is a concerning and alarming trend."
What is bed capacity?
When it comes to bed capacity, the numbers are about more than the amount of beds inside a hospital. Bed capacity includes how many medical professionals are available to care for patients (i.e., a hospital can't have more patients than it has staff to treat those patients—regardless of the physical number of beds it houses).
"When we have as much COVID as we do in our community right now, we have sick staff members who aren't able to come to work," Dr. Kowalski says. "We have people who are out on quarantine, and when we can't muster a full team to provide care to our patients our ability to care and our bed capacity is strained even further."
Life and death implications…really?
Growing hospitalization rates and limited staff to care for patients because of COVID create a storm of consequences.
As more and more beds are filled by patients with COVID and increasing numbers of staff must quarantine, providers in other areas of the hospital are pulled in to help meet the COVID crisis.
This means that patients who need care unrelated to COVID may not be able to get it—a parent or grandparent who requires immediate care for a stroke or heart attack or a loved one with undetected cancer whose screening appointment was cancelled because their doctor was called in to help care for patients with COVID.
All of this leads to preventable deaths of family members, friends and neighbors.
How can you help?
- Don't gather with anyone who doesn't live in your household, including over the holidays
- Wear a face mask whenever you're outside of your household, especially in indoor locations
- Socially distance, remaining at least 6 feet from others, when you're out in public
- Encourage your extended family members, friends and neighbors to follow the above measures