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Resource Shortage Looming for Illinois Hospitals

By Julia Kindelin and Vanessa Corcoran |  @RedLineProject | Posted: Friday, May 1, 2020

Gov. JB Pritkzer has predicted that Illinois’ peak for confirmed cases of COVID-19 will hit at least mid May, so the entire state must prepare for that peak.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 242,189 people have been tested for COVID-19, 48,102 positive,and 2,125 have died. Since March 4, cases have steadily risen.

According to the CDC, coughing, shortness of breath and high fever, are symptoms for COVID-19, If someone has been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 they must call before they go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. 

Caitlin Talaga, a registered nurse at Advent Health in Tampa, Florida, said she wants people to take the stay-at-home order seriously.

“As for my hospital, less patients have been coming in, people are actually complying to the stay in orders, and only coming in if necessary,” she said. “I personally think we are as serious as we can get as a nation. We shut it down completely other than grocery stores.” 

Healthcare workers are essential during the pandemic, and they continue to help, treat, and save thousands of lives.

Although there is no existing treatment to help those that test positive, a vaccine is underway to help fight against the pandemic. Dr. Paul Offiit, an American pediatrician specializing in vaccines told CNN that the process of acquiring a vaccine could take m ore than 18 months. 

While experts say that the Illinois curve is beginning to flatten, scientists are still pushing the importance of testing. Currently, there are 46 testing locations across Illinois. Although testing sites are still growing, many have restrictions. Some are only testing medical workers, others require that patients exhibit flu like symptoms and have had known exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual.

Many have a pre-screening check prior to actual testing that helps determine which patients need the test most. Illinois is not yet at a point where widespread testing is available.

While The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows that U.S. hospital resource use peaked on April 14, yet Pritzker said he doubts that Illinois has hit its peak. Projections indicate that the state will see its peak in mid-May. In hopes of reducing further spread, Pritzker announced that Illinois stay-at-home order will last through May and possibly into June.

 

As of April 28, 34% of the 3,645 staffed ICU beds statewide are being occupied by positive COVID-19 patients. Taking into account non COVID patients, Only 952 beds remain open across the state. 

Illinois has 3,602 staffed ventilators, 778 (22%) of which are being used on COVID patients. Subtracting non COVID patients, 2,453 ventilators remain. 

Despite Illinois’ good standing with the number of ICU beds and ventilators available, several regions have been hit harder. Hospitals in the City of Chicago region are nearing capacity. Only 14%, 162, of the region’s 1,124 beds remain available. The area still has 848 of their 1,405 ventilators available. 

ICU beds and ventilators are used for the most sick patients, meaning the data available does not show the full extent of how hospitals have been impacted. 

In light of the looming ventilator shortage, new ventilators are being produced and existing ones have been transported to hospitals in need.

Some Chicago Hospitals are doing whatever it takes to help each other. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago shared in a facebook post that they were sending multiple ventilators to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

Other Illinois hospitals are benefitting from ventilators made by General Motors. After President Trump enacted the Stafford Disaster Relief and Protection Act on March 13, General Motors partnered with Ventec Life Systems to produce ventilators. 

So far, Franciscan Health Olympia Fields Hospital in Olympia Fields has received 10 ventilators. Another 10 will be shipped to Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago before the end of April. A third shipment containing 34 ventilators will be sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Gary/Chicago International Airport to be distributed to other locations. 

Deliveries of ventilators to hospitals in need are just one small way that Illinois is showing that there is hope.

In addition to preparing existing hospitals, The McCormick Place Convention Center has been transformed into a 2,000-bed medical facility. The first patients were admitted on April 17, and the unit is prepared to accept more COVID positive patients once hospitals are at capacity. The unit is designed to care for the non critically ill, but is fully equipped with emergency supplies.

A Illinois hospital nurse hopes that Illinois residents will cooperate with government implemented measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the hospital system from becoming overwhelmed. 

“I think that we all need to work together”, she said. “The public and healthcare workers- to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Although we don’t have a vaccine or specific treatment interventions right now, we are able to practice social distancing and staying home to reduce the amount of exposure”

Check out the Official Illinois Coronavirus website for up-to-date information.

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