Colorado hospital capacity sitting at less than 10% as staffing shortages continue


COLORADO — Colorado hospitals are facing unprecedented challenges due to an increase in hospitalizations and shortage in hospital employees.

“Hospitals want to be able to provide care but we are reaching a point where we are in jeopardy of being overwhelmed,” said Cara Welch, spokesperson for Colorado Hospital Association.

The Colorado Hospital Association said ICU bed use was at 93% as of Wednesday, which means only 115 ICU beds are available statewide. CHA says these hospitalizations go past COVID care as approximately 20% of hospitalizations are COVID-related. Hospitals are also seeing patients come in who did not get preventive care for other health issues during the pandemic, an influx of trauma patients, and results of an early respiratory season.

“We are just seeing volumes that are significantly elevated from what we would see in a November,” said Welch.

Colorado hospitals are operating under a new level of patent transfer tiers. Under Tier III, patients have the potential to be transferred on a statewide level. Meaning hospitals may send sicker patients to other medical centers while patients who are on the verge of being discharged will also be moved to other hospitals with available space. Tier III is the highest level of transfer pateint tier and it’s a first since the start of the pandemic.

“This will hopefully help but it’s not going to answer all of our problems at this point,” said Welch.

Right now, two Pueblo hospitals are operating on divert status and are taking turns accepting EMS patients to ensure care.

“We may have to make incredibly difficult decisions about what patients are able to see care because we won’t have enough resources to provide care for everyone that comes to our hospitals,” said Welch.

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