Saint Luke’s Health System has more than twice as many COVID patients hospitalized as they reported a month ago, hospital officials said Friday.
Currently, there are 82 COVID patients hospitalized across the 16 entities within the hospital’s health system. That number is up from the mid-30s this time in June, and this week’s numbers are the highest they have seen since mid-February, said Lindsey Stich, hospital spokeswoman.
“So that’s a pretty significant increase. And we haven’t been this high since mid-February. Our high point in January was 200 or so but we are climbing,” Stich said.
Other hospitals in the Kansas City area also have seen more patients in recent weeks and some have turned down transfers of COVID patients from other locations.
Kansas City hospitals
HCA Midwest Health hospitals, which include Research Medical Center and Overland Park Regional Medical Center, also have seen COVID-19 admissions rise.
On Friday, the hospitals were treating more than 80 COVID patients, compared to more than 200 it had during the peak of the pandemic last spring, said hospital system spokeswoman Christine Hamele.
More than 90% of those patients are not vaccinated, she said.
At 75% capacity, the hospitals have the beds, supplies and equipment to meet the current demand, Hamele said, and is accepting transfers from other areas when it can. The system also has staffing contingencies to handle surges, she said.
Also on Friday, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission had 19 COVID patients — six in ICU and three on ventilators, according to director of communications Morgan Shandler.
“We have been very full this week in general, not specifically with COVID patients,” Shandler said in a statement. “We have not been asked to take COVID-19 patients from other towns/cities, but we have been asked to take other patients and have had to decline some due to not having enough beds.”
Olathe Medical Center reported 19 COVID patients on Friday, a number that has increased significantly over the last two weeks, hospital officials said.
The hospital currently has enough beds, but has turned down requests to take patients from hospitals 200 miles away to make sure it can take care of local patients, said spokeswoman Stephanie Manning.
Liberty Hospital had 21 inpatients with COVID-19 on Friday, four on ventilators.
“What we’re seeing is patients who are younger, sicker and non-vaccinated,” said Dr. Raghu Adiga, infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer at Liberty Hospital.
Hospital officials said they routinely receive requests to accept COVID patients from hospitals north and east of Liberty, and have not turned away any who are unvaccinated or from outside the community.
They amplified the growing plea from hospital officials across the metro: Get vaccinated and mask up in public, especially if you are not vaccinated.
Call for mask mandates
On Friday, the area encompassing Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas gained 529 new cases for a total of 156,548 to date. Over the past week, the metro added 2,608 new cases.
The seven-day rolling average for new cases rose from 340 to 373, according to data tracked by The Star. The average has not been this high since Feb. 4. One week ago, the average sat at 262 and two weeks ago, it was 155.
The metro also added one death on Friday, raising the total to 2,314 since the pandemic began.
In response to the rising number of cases, area health leaders are expected to call for new mask mandates. Kansas City lifted its mask mandate in May.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Quinton Lucas said Thursday, city leaders were monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 variants and are have spoken frequently with local and federal health authorities.
On July 16, 10 Kansas City-area hospitals and health officials issued a joint public health advisory recommending members of the public wear masks.
Unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask while visiting indoor public places, crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated, according to the advisory.