El Paso County regional hospital capacity moves to level orange-red

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Courtesy of UCHealth.

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo.– El Paso County regional hospital capacity will change from orange to orange-red on the official COVID-19 data dashboard by Thursday night, Sept. 16.

El Paso County hospitals have held a census of more than 150 COVID-19 confirmed or suspected patients for the last week, the highest numbers since the beginning of the year. This change means that hospital capacity is strained, causing hospitals in the area to experience resource and staff limitations.

Courtesy of UCHealth representing the number of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated COVID patients in UCHealth hospitals as of today.

“UCHealth’s hospitals in the Pikes Peak region continue to see record numbers of patients needing care for COVID and other health conditions. This morning, our hospitals in the region were caring for 90 patients with COVID – a number not seen since early January,” said Dr. David Steinbruner, chief medical officer for UCHealth Memorial.

Steinbruner said that given that flu season is about to enter full swing, there is cause for worry with what COVID-19 numbers will look like this winter.

“Across the country, COVID is impacting patients who need care for other urgent, life-threatening issues, such as stroke or heart failure. We don’t want it to get to that point in Colorado. I urge everyone: Please get a COVID vaccine and get a flu vaccine,” said Steinbruner. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado said that their data shows that children’s hospitals across the country are facing the following mounting four challenges:

  • An early start to respiratory season
  • The transmissibility of the Delta variant
  • The pediatric mental health crisis
  • The heightened demands place on healthcare workforce as more people choose to leave the industry than ever before

Because of these reasons, pediatric intensive care units, inpatient units and emergency departments are operating at remarkably increased volumes.  

“We’ve built the infrastructure, including high-volume vaccination and testing sites throughout El Paso County, and we need more people to take advantage of these quick, free, easy-to-access resources. Please do everything you can to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the community’s health. The vaccine is the superior prevention tool to reduce the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in El Paso County.” said Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health.

El Paso County’s current vaccination rates are at 67.8% of eligible residents who have received at least one dose, with 61 percent fully vaccinated. The county ranks near the bottom in terms of having the lowest vaccination rates when compared to the top 10 most populous counties.  

The increase in hospitalizations is driven by those who are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated, accounting for more than 85% of those requiring advanced care.

Hospitalizations have also been trending younger compared to 2020. For the last 30 days, 30 percent of hospitalizations of El Paso County residents are age 39 or younger.

For comparison since March 2020, that age group accounts for 20% of all hospitalizations.  

To learn more about UCHealth and stay up to date on COVID-19, click here.

To learn where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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