‘Our hospital is full’: Capital city ERs struggling with capacity

Local News

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka’s hospitals are at or near full capacity with more COVID cases flooding their emergency rooms, leaving officials to urge residents to wear masks and take precautions.

Stormont Vail Health President and CEO Dr. Robert Kenagy announced the hospital is full and on diversion on Monday. Diversion means the hospital cannot accept patients via ambulance.

“This is our situation. This is our reality. We are not crying “wolf,” Dr. Kenagy said. “We are trying to provide clarity about the status of our community.”

This all comes as schools go back in session, posing another concern, as the Kansas Hospital Association’s Cindy Samuelson describes.

“We are seeing an average age that’s younger than we’ve ever seen before, related to COVID patients,” Samuelson said.

Here’s what Topeka’s hospitals are dealing with to start the week:

  • As of Monday afternoon, 64 of 228 patients at Stormont Vail’s emergency room were COVID-19 positive.
  • 83% of those patients are not vaccinated against the virus.
  • Across the street at the University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, critical care was 100% occupied on Monday.
  • Their spokesperson says 35 people came in on COVID-19 complications that day alone.

“Our message to the community is simple,” Nancy Burkhardt with KU said. “Please get vaccinated and please continue to wear a mask in public even though we don’t have a mask mandate. It’s the only way to slow the spread of the virus.”

The hospitals still need to treat patients with other illnesses too, like stroke, cancer or heart-related issues.

“At the start of today, we had an Emergency Department full of ill and injured people,” Dr. Kenagy wrote in a statement. “At 8:00 a.m., there were 14 patients waiting for inpatient rooms; 10 of them had been waiting for more than six hours. There was no space to move them to inpatient rooms because those were filled.”

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