NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant, hospitals across Middle Tennessee are filling up, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The rise in COVID-19 cases is putting added stress on hospitals that are already dealing with capacity and staffing challenges.
VUMC released a statement saying the hospital is full and urged everyone eligible to be vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
“Our Adult Hospital and Emergency Department are completely full. Due to constraints on all levels of bed capacity, we are limiting elective cases and declining transfer requests from many hospitals. The Middle Tennessee Transfer Coordinating Center is up and running to try to balance the load around the city. Those transfers are being placed in hospitals despite capacity and staffing challenges. This is a significant stressor to our health care staff and providers. Patients we are treating for COVID are all ages, with some in their early to mid-20s being very sick. We continue to see that the majority, more than 90%, of those admitted for COVID are unvaccinated and those that are vaccinated are also are severely immunocompromised. We urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated ASAP and masks do help limit the transmission of COVID."
Last week, the hospital announced it would be postponing non-urgent surgeries in order to make room for the demand for beds.
"When the hospital is full, the hospital is full," said Dr. William Schaffner. "That means it can't accept incoming patients until some patients get discharged."
Schaffner says a hospital's population can fluctuate throughout the day, including times when the hospital may have some staffed beds, but other hospitals in the area are also feeling the stress caused by unvaccinated people admitted with COVID.
The Tennessee Nurses Association is also encouraging unvaccinated Tennesseans to receive the vaccine as 97% of hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.
“We are asking Tennesseans to do their part to help beat the virus and bring relief to a stressed healthcare system,” Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, Executive Director of the Tennessee Nurses Association said in a statement. “If you can get vaccinated, get it as soon as possible. The virus is real and raging across our state. COVID-19 vaccines are proven to reduce the spread of the virus and the severity of the illness if someone does contract COVID-19."
Ascension St. Thomas is seeing similar issues with ICU capacity being a "growing concern." Hospital officials released the following statement:
"ICU bed availability is a fluid process, with patients being accepted or transferred in and out of the units. However, ICU capacity is a growing concern as we admit and care for increasing numbers of critically ill COVID inpatients. We are constantly evaluating our bed status at each of our facilities and making appropriate adjustments to attempt to stay ahead of the need."
A doctor with Sumner Regional Medical Center recently took to social media to explain the "disheartening" state of his hospital and others across the state.
"The delta variant has burned through us with a ferocity that’s hard to describe. 6 weeks ago there were 200 Covid patients in hospitals in Tennessee. Today there are 2000. A 1000% increase. In 6 weeks. It has overwhelmed tired doctors, nurses and healthcare systems that were already stretched thin," the post stated in part.