TOPEKA (KSNT) – Medical officials in Kansas and Missouri are delaying surgeries, turning away transfers, and desperately trying to hire traveling nurses. Why? Because the nationwide average of hospital admissions is rising.

Earlier this week Stormont Vail Health reported 55 current hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The percent of COVID-19 patients that are unvaccinated is 94%.

The seven-day positivity rate for Stormont Vale is 19.8%. The percent of positive cases is 90% unvaccinated.

“The beds are not the issue. It’s the nurses to staff the beds. … And it’s all created by rising COVID numbers and burnout,” Kansas City’s Advent Health Shawnee Mission chief medical officer Dr. Lisa Hays said. “Our nurses are burnt out.”

Experts attribute most of the rise in cases and hospitalizations to infections among people who have not been inoculated against the coronavirus.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, said the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” continues to swamp the hospital and its workers. “There’s no place to go. Our staff are tired. We’re going to run out of travelers,” Stites said, referring to visiting health care workers, “and omicron is at our doorstep. This is a tornado warning to our community.”

At the University of Kansas Health System, St. Frances Campus, critical care capacity is at 95%. In the last several days the hospital has seen 41 Emergency Department visits related to COVID-19.

On Thursday, St. Francis had 23 positive inpatients, 87% were not vaccinated. .

Health systems elsewhere that are doing somewhat better are nervously eyeing the arrival of the omicron variant and girding themselves for the impact.

Nebraska officials said hospitals might have to put some care on hold to make room for COVID-19 patients. While case numbers are down from the state’s pandemic peak, they could rebound rapidly, and bed availability remains tight because of patients with non-virus ailments.

“It may be likely that omicron will cause a giant surge, and honestly we can’t handle that right now,” said Dr. Angela Hewlett of Nebraska Medicine in Omaha.