“You may not be able to access the care you need,” officials say as COVID cases spike

Tennessee health officials released a statement on hospital stress as COVID-19 cases spike statewide.
Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 11:15 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Officials with the Tennessee Hospital Association released a statement on the state of healthcare facilities in the state following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the state.

According to officials, all ICU beds in most major metropolitan areas of the state are full. Since these hospitals usually take the sickest patients from other healthcare facilities, it affects the entire state’s healthcare system.

In the statement, officials said that hospital stress caused by COVID-19 might stop people from receiving the care they need when they need it, even if their condition is not directly caused by COVID-19 infection.

“If you or a loved one need treatment for any type of serious healthcare problem like a severe injury, heart attack, or stroke, you may not be able to access the care you need, when you need it,” officials said.

According to the Tennessee Health Department, at least 88 percent of these COVID hospitalizations and 94 percent of COVID deaths are among unvaccinated individuals, the statement said. Officials recommended anyone in Tennessee eligible to be vaccinated get the vaccine.

“The number one tool we have to protect ourselves and our community from COVID is vaccination,” the statement said. “COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Tennessee since late last year and have been proven safe and effective.”

WVLT News reached out to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital about possible capacity concerns, and officials said they have a plan to address patient surges.

“East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will not be turning away any patients who need our care. Children’s Hospital is not at capacity,” officials said in a statement. “We always have a plan in place to address times of surges in patient volumes. Children’s Hospital is a safe place to bring your child. We want to encourage people not to delay emergency medical care for children who need it. For issues that aren’t emergencies, it’s best to start with your pediatrician or a Children’s Hospital urgent care. We continue to strongly recommend vaccination against COVID-19 for anyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine.”

As of Wednesday, only eight ICU beds were available across the state.

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