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SLC Mayor says hospitals have reached their breaking point with rising COVID-19 patients rationing hospital care, COVID-19 vaccine coming to Utah. But who gets it first?
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SLC Mayor says hospitals have reached their breaking point with rising COVID-19 patients

(University Hospital. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says hospitals have reached the “breaking point’ doctors warned us about as we see another massive jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Utah.  

Health officials say more than 1,900 new cases are being reported, and hospitals in Salt Lake City are pleading with people to understand how much of a strain this has been on them. 

Workers at University Hospital can predict when their ICUs will be at capacity.  They say if the daily number of new COVID-19 patients is over 1,200, their beds will either be full or close to capacity.  However, the state’s current rolling seven-day average is 1,355, and over 15 percent of all tests come back as positive. 

(Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaking with doctor and nurses at University Hospital. Credit: Paul Nelson)

“We feel compelled to communicate to everyone who will listen [sic] the true severity of what is happening with this pandemic in the state of Utah,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Officials say University Hospital has exceeded its normal ICU capacity, and they’ve had to open a surge ICU to care for new patients.  Doctor Kencee Graves says the hospital had been preparing for a massive surge in patients, but the staff won’t be able to handle the workload if the current trends continue.  She hears the same message from a lot of her colleagues every day.

“They said, ‘We are exhausted.  We cannot do this forever.  We cannot keep taking care of patients beyond what we have been,’” Graves says.

She and other doctors are urging everyone to follow the same safety guidelines they’ve been told to follow for the last several months… don’t go to large social gatherings, maintain social distance and wear a mask.

Graves says, “Until you do that, we will have 99 percent-plus ICU capacity.”

The rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is already interfering with other forms of patient care.  Officials say patients with conditions like COPD or diabetes won’t be able to get treatment as quickly as they used to.  One woman wasn’t able to get proper care for heart problems in early October.

“We’ve had to cancel surgeries for patients that require a hospital stay,” says University Hospital Surgical Professor Robert Glasgow.

Glasgow had to tell two of his patients that their surgeries had to be delayed until December, at the earliest, even though neither one of them can eat on their own. 

Currently, 313 people are in the hospital due to COVID-19.  State health officials reported 1,960 new cases on Friday, which shattered the previous record of 1,543 set just one day prior.

 

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