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Ky. Hospitals May Have To Start Rationing Care As COVID Surge Continues

Courtesy Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital via WFPL

A surge of COVID-19 patients across the state and country might mean rationing of a coronavirus treatment in Kentucky.

Monoclonal antibodies have proven to be among the most effective treatments for COVID-19. As more people become hospitalized with COVID, the demand for the treatment has steadily increased, and the federal government has decided to ration it.

Governor Andy Beshear estimated the state will receive 4,500 treatments a week under the new guidelines. Last week, the commonwealth used over 5,000 treatments. Beshear says it’s unlikely the state has the supplies needed to make up the difference.

“Doctors are gonna have to use other things that haven’t proven to be as good as this treatment,” said Beshear. “They are gonna have to look at individuals and make the tough decisions about who gets the best medication and who doesn’t.”

The rationing comes as Kentucky’s healthcare system is already struggling to take care of patients.

Hospitals in the commonwealth are filled up at rates not seen at any other point during the pandemic.

“This week we are being hit by a COVID surge like never before since the onset of the pandemic. We are setting records in terms of our volumes of patients being seen in our emergency room and in our urgent treatment centers,” said Dr. Steve Toadvine, the chief executive officer at Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana.

Several hospitals in Kentucky are reaching critical care levels.

Beshear deployed National Guard members to hospitals across the commonwealth to help with administrative work, in an effort to free up healthcare workers to treat patients.

And some nursing programs, like Galen Nursing, have offered students to help hospitals as well.

Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner Department for Public Health, says another concern is a “twindemic”–a flu outbreak coinciding with the current COVID-19 surge.

Health officials have already predicted this upcoming flu season will be worse than in previous years. 

They are urging residents to get both a coronavirus vaccine and a flu shot.

“Right now when the hospitals are really on the brink of the worst distress … it’s really, really important we all do our part to keep ourselves safe, but also make sure we don’t need to be in the hospital at a time where there are not enough beds to go around,” said Stack.

A recent poll showed that 20% of Kentuckians said they will not get vaccinated.
Copyright 2021 89.3 WFPL News Louisville. To see more, visit 89.3 WFPL News Louisville.

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