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Murray Hospital Reaches Capacity For ICU Beds, Ventilators Amid COVID-19 Surge

The Murray-Calloway County Hospital.
Murray-Calloway County Hospital
Murray-Calloway County Hospital exterior.

The Murray-Calloway County Hospital (MCCH) announced Monday the hospital had reached capacity for intensive care unit beds and ventilators because of increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as space occupied to treat conditions not related to the virus.

Jeffery Eye, vice president of patient services at MCCH, said the current influx of COVID-19 inpatients is a sustained acceleration of the increase seen in July, which was largely attributed to the arrival of the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus in Kentucky.

“We’ve been full several times throughout the last 18 months,” Eye said. “The acceleration and the growth in cases [now] is much more rapid than what we’ve experienced in the past. Maybe we’ll get to a peak, and it’ll taper off like it has in the past. But there’s still a lot of people in the community that aren’t vaccinated and haven’t had [the virus], so there’s still a lot of potential patients out there for us to contend with.”

On Tuesday afternoon, 24 out of 90 inpatients at MCCH have COVID-19, five of whom are in the ICU and 17 in acute care. More COVID-19 patients in addition to patients with other conditions is straining the resources of the hospital.

“Part of it is we have the interventional cardiology program now that we didn’t have pre-COVID, so we have more cardiology patients that we care for here locally that we would’ve transferred out in the past,” Eye said.

He said most other inpatients are dealing with lung diseases resulting from heat and humidity and farm work.

MCCH stated in its Facebook post on Monday that it’s continuing to offer critical care and ventilator usage in “nontraditional care locations” as part of its “disaster plans.” Eye said the hospital has only needed to utilize the emergency department so far, but the outpatient surgery center, post-anesthesia care unit, hallway beds and older parts of the building are available if necessary.

“It’s not unusual during the day to become full and hold some patients in your ER to slow them down so you can get discharges and move patients around,” Eye said. “Whereas yesterday, there really was nowhere to go. We’ve been lucky today that we had a few discharges, but then, we filled right back up.”

Murray-Calloway County Hospital COVID-19 data posted to Facebook on Aug. 30.
Murray-Calloway County Hospital
Murray-Calloway County Hospital COVID-19 data posted to Facebook on Aug. 30.

The hospital stated Monday it will reschedule some elective surgeries and may delay urgent procedures to afford more space for critical care. The hospital plans to contact any patients whose surgeries are affected by this development.

Other hospitals in the region are also contending with high numbers of COVID-related inpatients as COVID-19 cases increase statewide. Kentucky reported more than 2,200 individuals were hospitalized on Tuesday, another hospitalization record for the state since the pandemic began. More than 77,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in August. In August of 2020 — before vaccines were available — the state recorded nearly 20,000 cases.

Nanette Bentley, spokesperson for Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, said the hospital maintains the ability to provide care for additional patients. The hospital currently houses 48 positive COVID-19 inpatients, 15 of whom are in critical care beds and eight on ventilators.

Med Center Health in Bowling Green currently houses 74 COVID-19 inpatients, 72% of whom are unvaccinated. The hospital has 18 ICU patients and 10 on ventilators.

An infographic relaying COVID-19 date for Med Center Health in Paducah on Aug. 31.
Med Center Health
An infographic relaying COVID-19 date for Med Center Health in Paducah on Aug. 31.

Dustin Wilcox is a television production student at Murray State University. He graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 2019.
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