November 29, 2021

“This is potentially preventable,” Denver doctor says as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

At the end of August 2020, UCHealth said they had about 33 patients hospitalized with the virus. A year later, they are treating about 263 COVID-19 patients.

COLORADO, USA — According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), there are 862 Coloradans currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 

As of September 2, 263 of them are being treated at UCHealth hospitals. UCHealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jean Kutner, said they saw a significant increase in COVID hospitalizations in the last 10 days of August. 

“We are prepared,” Kutner said. “We were hoping that the story would be different.”

At the end of August 2020, UCHealth said they had about 33 patients hospitalized with the virus. A year later, the increases are coming at the start of flu season. 

“In a usual pre-COVID year, we see an uptick in hospitalizations in the fall as flu season and other respiratory viruses get going,” Kutner said. “So we were planning for that. We were hoping we would not also see another uptick of COVID.” 

Here is a breakdown of hospitalization data according to UCHealth as of Thursday: 

  • 263 patients hospitalized with COVID-19
    – 216 are not vaccinated
    – 47 are vaccinated
  • 100 of those patients are in the ICU
    – 85 are not vaccinated
    – 15 are vaccinated
  • 74 of those patients are on ventilators
    – 67 are not vaccinated
    – 7 are vaccinated

Kuther said most of the vaccinated people who are hospitalized are people who do not have strong immune systems, such as cancer or organ transplant patients.  

“That’s really why that third vaccine has been recommended for that population,” she said. 

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UCHealth said they have also seen an increase in demand for vaccinations in recent weeks. They’ve increased the number of vaccine clinics they are holding throughout the state, and appointments are required at this time. 

Kutner said healthcare workers will always continue to care for patients, but reminds people they do not want to get to a point where they are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. That would make it harder to treat people who need medical attention for non-COVID-related health issues. 

When that happens, “it’s harder to find a bed for that patient who may need it,” Kutner said. “It’s definitely been stressing our staff levels in terms of our overall staff as well as our physician staff, just because people are taking care of more and more sick patients.” 

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By now, hospitals are used to and prepared to treat increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, but with vaccines widely available, doctors say it feels different this time around. 

“It does feel different that way,” Kutner said. “A year ago, it did not feel preventable. It does now.” 

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