Colorado hospitals allowed to reject patients amid Covid-19 wave – Community News
Covid-19

Colorado hospitals allowed to reject patients amid Covid-19 wave

Colorado hospitals may reject patients as state experiences worst wave of Covid in a year.

An order signed Sunday by Governor Jared Polis gives health care professionals the power to prioritize crisis care led by the state’s health department.

Although the state has a partial vaccination coverage of nearly 80 percent, unvaccinated people with severe Covid-19 are overwhelming hospitals, many reported to have over 90 percent capacity, according to Scott Bookman, Covid-19 incident commander for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

dr. Carrie Goodson departed, comforting a patient as she is being intubated, while nurses assist Ashley Vite, center, and Amy Cooper in the ICU Covid ward at Aurora Medical Center, Colorado in May 2020.AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post via Getty Images file

“If you are not vaccinated, a regular trip to the supermarket, a night out for dinner is more dangerous than ever during this pandemic,” Polis said in Monday’s Covid-19 update. “The delta variant is brutally effective at targeting the unvaccinated, like a laser-guided missile.”

A total of 1,358 Covid patients were admitted across Colorado on Wednesday, nearly 50 percent more than the 909 Covid patients hospitalized on Oct. 3, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard.

Covid hospital admissions have risen steadily since a summer low in Colorado, with 455 reported in early August. Polis said the state has the fifth highest number of Covid cases in the country.

The majority of Covid hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people, “between 80 and 90 percent throughout Colorado,” says Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection control and prevention for UCHealth, the largest hospital in the Denver area.

She said the executive order will allow health workers, “who are clearly stretched,” to make priority calls and potentially reduce hospital overcrowding.

Doctors and nurses have been working extra shifts and overtime to meet the growing need, said Dr Eric Poeschla, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Colorado Hospital, where 85 percent of all Covid patients are unvaccinated.

In addition to getting vaccinated, a more holistic approach to Covid-19 prevention could better protect the most vulnerable and reduce hospitalizations, he said.

“The most sensible strategy, I think, is a combination of vaccination, boosting, masking, limiting indoor gatherings without masking,” Poeschla says. “Attention to all those things at once really helps.”

Vaccinated people in Colorado are not required to wear a mask in most indoor settings, while studies show that the viral load of a vaccinated person can be comparable to that of an unvaccinated person. While the state’s partially vaccinated rate is relatively high nationwide, the state needs to reach a rate of about 90 percent to prevent another wave, he said.

Until more people are vaccinated, any precautionary measure will protect those who cannot be vaccinated or who have severe breakthrough cases, Barron said. While the “vast majority” of Covid-19 patients in Colorado hospitals are unvaccinated, vaccinated hospital admissions represent the state’s most physically vulnerable population.

Of the roughly 20 percent of vaccinated people hospitalized for Covid-19, many are over 65 or have underlying co-morbidities leading to immunosuppression, such as cancer patients requiring chemotherapy, she said.

“If you have a vulnerable host and you have delta at play, which is much more contagious and much more transmissible, it’s the perfect storm where you just need one community to be vulnerable, which can then be affected and then more can expose people, and it just keeps the momentum going,” Barron said. “Like wildfire.”