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As Virus Surges, Lexington Hospitals Ask Non-Covid Patients To Avoid ER

Stu Johnson

Representatives from three hospitals in Lexington are urging citizens to avoid using emergency departments for non-symptomatic COVID-19 testing.

UK HealthCare Vice President for Hospital Operations Colleen Swartz says emergency rooms are, quote, “fairly overrun right now.” She said the space and resources are needed to meet emergency care needs.

Doctors from UK HealthCare, St. Joseph, and Baptist Health all said their hospitals are at or near bed capacity, but are still managing patients.  St. Joseph Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Mark Sloan said staffing remains an ongoing concern. “You know, I’ve always said this, medicine is still a hands on job. You can’t protocolize and you can’t use computers to take care of patients.  It still takes physical hands of doctors and nurses and techs to touch the patients and take care of them,” said Sloan.

Swartz at UK said about 100 front line caregivers are out after either having COVID-19 or being exposed.  She noted the management of patients has included moving some to the children’s hospital, obstetrics, and Eastern State Hospital.

Dr. David Dougherty with Baptist Health said his hospital is seeing patients with a second bout of coronavirus.  And sometimes with more serious health impacts.  “We’ve had people come in that did not require admission after PCR proven COVID-19 during the first infection in March or April and then came in and had to be admitted,” explained Dougherty.
Dougherty said doctors are preparing for increases in COVID-19 cases through January.

Colleen Swartz, meanwhile, said frontline caregivers have stayed the course.  But, she said it’s more important than ever that citizens double down on basic preventive measures of social distance, masking, and hand washing.

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