Surge in Covid-19 cases can make it hard to find an advanced-care hospital bed for rural patients who have other ailments

State Dept. for Public Health table from daily report, adapted by Ky. Health News; click it to enlarge.

Skyrocketing Covid-19 hospitalizations mean hospitals are running out of beds. That’s hurting not just Covid patients, but rural patients with other serious ailments who would customarily be transferred to larger regional hospitals.

For example, Zac Oakes of Russell Springs, Ky., told WLEX-TV in Lexington that it took a week to move his grandfather to a larger hospital. His grandfather does not have Covid-19 and does not need an intensive care unit, but it was almost impossible to find a bed, he said.

Russell County is in the middle of the Lake Cumberland hospital-readiness region, which has been the one in Kentucky there are 10) that has had the least ICU and overall bed capacity in the pandemic.

“These hospitals don’t have room, and if they don’t have room for somebody who needs medical care quickly, I mean that can be a matter of life or death for some people and it’s very frightening that we’re at that point,” Oakes told reporter Austin Pollack.

That could be deadly for time-sensitive issues such as strokes; rural residents are at a higher risk for them, and rural survival rates are worse in part because rural hospitals don’t quickly transfer patients to bigger hospitals that have more specialists and newer treatments.

State officials said this month that Kentucky hospitals are working together to facilitate transfers.
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