Topeka’s St. Francis hospital facing ‘overcapacity’ due to staff shortage

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT)– COVID-19 cases are surging all across the nation. A growing number of hospitals are running out of beds in the Intensive Care Unit.

The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus in Topeka currently doesn’t have enough staff to work in certain areas of the hospital like the ICU. This is a big contribution to the overcapacity.

“We are very tight of staff,” Dr. Jackie Hyland said, Chief Medical Officer at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis. “We actually have some beds that are physically available but we don’t have staff to care for the patients that would be in those beds.”

Some healthcare workers are calling it quits after nearly a year and a half of pandemic-related challenges. This is leaving hospitals shorthanded during a time of need. The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis is currently at 150% capacity in its Critical Care Unit.

“On a medical floor, usually it’s one nurse to five patients,” Dr. Hyland said. “Then in the ICU, depending on how sick they are or what’s going on, it’s usually a ratio of one nurse to two patients.”

It takes more staff for those diagnosed with COVID.

“It’s labor-intensive,” Dr. Hyland said. “Even if you have just two patients sometimes those two patients can take all of your time.”

St. Francis officials said there is are always rooms for heart attack patients and similar emergencies. It does become harder to care for those patients when COVID patients are filling the emergency room.

There is no straightforward answer as to when this crisis will end.

“We are going to continue to go,” Dr. Hyland said. “We have to continue to care for patients.”

At this point, health officials are begging people to do their part and get vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus. For those already vaccinated, they recommend wearing a mask and social distancing until vaccination numbers increase.

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