UW Health SwedishAmerican runs out of ICU beds

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Due to a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, UW Health SwedishAmerican says all of its intensive care unit beds are currently at capacity.

“This hospital is caring for nearly 60% of the COVID-19 cases in the region, and healthcare providers in the hospital are asking for the community`s support to weather this ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases,” a spokesperson said in a statement released Tuesday.

Ann Gantzer, vice president of Patient Services, said that their resources are strained right now, so much so that they are getting extra hands to help from the state.

“Every day, every hour, we’re constantly evaluating this,” Gantzer said. “Last Thursday we made history. Not the kind of history you want, but we had 30 beds and every single one of our patients was on a ventilator.”

Of those 30 patients, 22 were sick with COVID-19. Fast forward to Tuesday;

“We have 30 patients and 16 of them are COVID positive. We constantly are evaluating what’s the stability of the patient and when are the ready to move to just a little lower level of care,” Gantzer said. “Everybody in Region 1 is experiencing high census and limited ICU beds and strained resources.”

The hospital says visitor restrictions are in place that will exclude adult patients from having a visitor accompany them, with some limited exceptions.

“We need every hospital, every patient and every individual in our community to do their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 so we can continue to care for some of the most vulnerable among us,” Gantzer said. “Get vaccinated, get your booster, wear a mask, wash your hands and physically distance when out in public spaces.”

“Our numbers are absolutely staggering. Our hospitals are completely full. Our health care workers are exhausted,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said Monday at a press conference, outlining a desperate call from medical professionals as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

Winnebago County Health Department Dr. Sandra Martell said the county is averaging 500 new COVID-19 cases per day. 

Hospitalizations have seen a 15% increase since Dec 31st, with 219 people in hospital for treatment, up from 187 a week ago.

On Monday, Martell said there are 45 patients in the ICU, with 11% of those on ventilators.

“Let’s hope that you’re not in an accident. Let’s hope that a loved one doesn’t have a heart procedure that’s needed immediately. Let’s hope that you don’t need any medical care, or any of your loved ones,” McNamara added. “Stop listening to the rumors. Start listening to… Dr. Martell is here to provide accurate information…. They’re telling you that there’s 2 ICU beds. They’re telling you that 90% of people who are hospitalized are not vaccinated. Those are the facts.”

Rockford’s OSF St. Anthony is near capacity. They explained in a statement that they “do have an emergency operations plan for each hospital that contains a surge plan.” This allows them to increase general and ICU beds as needed.

Gantzer said that this fourth surge of COVID-19 patients is taking a major toll on the staff.

“We work really hard. Everybody is getting very tired…it’s hard to be resilient for this. It’s hard. Everyone comes in knowing that today is going to be as hard as yesterday, and you look at your shift, and tomorrow’s going to be as hard,” Gantzer said. “We all know there aren’t answers, there aren’t solutions right now. Maybe there would be solutions if everybody would vaccinate, wear masks, socially distance, do all of those we know they make a difference. That would change the reality of what we’re living in the hospital.”

Martell said that the community needs to understand how fragile the system is and work to help decrease the need for hospital care at this time. She urged anyone who has not been vaccinated to get their shots, and to make sure to get boosters for those who have.

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