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Omicron hospitalizations increase at Lexington hospitals

TIM WEBB- uknow.uky.edu
One of three hospitals in Lexington

Representatives from Lexington hospitals are reporting a significant increase in COVID-related hospitalizations. Tuesday, Baptist Health Lexington was caring for 108 patients, twice the number of patients compared to two weeks ago. At St. Joseph, Director of Emergency Services Todd Gilbert said the typical flow is being altered with an estimated one in three patients coming through the hospital door now suffering from COVID. “It’s spilling over into the ED with many orders for hold patients and that’s tough on the patients and the staff. And therefore, they back up into our waiting room,” said Gilbert.

Hospital officials stressed the importance of seeking coronavirus tests at drive-through centers and not the emergency room. UK Department of Emergency Medicine Chair Dr. Roger Humphries said it’s not known yet when the top of the Omicron wave locally will happen. He added there’s a higher risk of transmission before symptoms show up.

Baptist Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Mark Spanier said people need to be understanding of how tough it is right now for caregivers. “Patients sometimes will yell at the nurses, will sometimes be rude, and so, I would just really encourage anyone who does need to use the emergency department to be kind to the providers who are still there, because many are leaving and will continue to leave if they’re mistreated,” explained Spanier.

Humphries said an at-home oxygen reading of anything below 90 should result in a trip to the hospital. He noted vaccination, masking, and social distancing remain very important. Humphries said it’s, quote, “Russian roulette to live in these times with no vaccination.”

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