UK HealthCare is seeing more COVID-19 patients than at any other point in the pandemic, including more children with COVID-19, doctors said Friday morning.
As of Thursday, there were 156 COVID-19 patients at UK Healthcare, 54 of them in the ICU and 35 of them on ventilators. Of the 156 patients, 15 are under the age of 18, said Dr. Lindsay Ragsdale, director of the pediatric advanced care team at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
Pediatric patients have been “sicker this surge,” and some have had to be placed on a ventilator, Ragsdale said. All of the current patients under the age of 18 are unvaccinated, said Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates, chief medical officer for inpatient and emergency services.
“This is everyone’s worst nightmare,” Ragsdale said. “Please, as a hospital, we are asking our community, please go get vaccinated. You can actually help protect children in Kentucky by just getting vaccinated.”
Another impact Kentucky Children’s Hospital has seen is on the mental health of patients.
“We are seeing a surge of kids that are really struggling to manage because their life has been turned upside down,” Ragsdale said. “All of their social networks, school is different. They might have lost adult caregivers in their lives, parents or grandparents. This is really affecting kids in a way that we have never seen before.”
Overall, UK HealthCare is currently seeing more COVID-19 patients than at any other point in the pandemic.
“We’re experiencing a surge in our inpatient population much bigger than we’ve had before, which is very stressful for the health care system, as well as for the families and patients that we have in the hospital,” Montgomery-Yates said.
The current surge is also affecting pregnant women in larger numbers, Montgomery-Yates said.
“We have seen an incredible increase in pregnant women who are COVID-positive,” Montgomery-Yates said. “Pregnancy does place you at an increased risk, and you should be vaccinated. If you’re not, then you should be careful. You should wear a mask, wash your hands, stay away from large groups so that you protect yourself and your unborn child.”
The patients with the worst symptoms are those who are unvaccinated, Montgomery-Yates said. People who test positive for COVID-19 after they have been vaccinated generally have fewer symptoms or are asymptomatic. Few of those people have to be hospitalized, and when they do, it is usually because of underlying health conditions, she said.
The high number of COVID-19 patients means there is strain on other areas of the hospital, Montgomery-Yates said. Patients who may have treatment or surgery scheduled unrelated to COVID-19 are having to have those rescheduled while the hospital deals with the surge.
“As we are filling up, the people who don’t have COVID are also going to be affected,” Montgomery-Yates said.
The doctors also said that people seeking a COVID-19 test or vaccination should avoid coming to the emergency room. Both tests and vaccines are available in the community, and people should go there in order to keep the emergency room open for true emergencies. COVID-19 tests can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov, and vaccine appointments can be found at ukvaccine.org.
“Vaccines are the answer,” Montgomery-Yates said. “They are the thing that is going to fix this problem, and the more people who get vaccinated, the faster we are all going to be through this.”