Harold Burch’s home is located in Pania, a rural area on the western slopes of Colorado at the foot of Mount Lamborn, and offers spectacular views. But for the 60-year-old man, there is no comfort, as he struggled with a series of health problems during the pandemic.
“This is a real rodeo,” Burch said. “It has gone through a lot of ups and downs, and most of it has been just frustration recently.”
Birch has fought chronic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and had two large bowel surgeries. An expert he met left her clinic last year. The other will not accept his insurance. Then, on November 1, he began to experience severe stomach pain.
“When we talk about terrible problems, I can’t leave home,” he said. He added that he hadn’t eaten anything substantial for three weeks.
Birch had to wait that long to see the primary care doctor. He said that the doctor told him, “If the situation is different, I will tell you to go to the hospital for a diagnosis, do some tests, and see your condition.” But he said, “As of today, the Delta County Hospital is overcrowded. There are no beds available. ‘”
The COVID variant delta has flooded Colorado County of the same name. The hospital on the west slope has been hit hard for several weeks, and the situation across the state is equally severe.As of Monday, the state Coronavirus website 1,294 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were reported. Half of the state’s hospitals said they expect a shortage of staff in mid-December; more than one-third also expect a shortage of beds in the intensive care unit.
Behind these numbers, patients feel the impact.
Birch’s doctor told him that he might have to wait in the emergency room for several hours, and it might be someone with flu or COVID symptoms. So Burch stayed at home.
“It’s really frustrating because I did the right thing, like many others, we were just told,’Unless you have a very serious problem, like a heart attack or a stroke, you will have a Children or something like that, we really don’t have time to mess with you,'” Burch said. “I mean, this is wrong.”
Burch’s situation is not uncommon this fall, as the state is facing the second most severe COVID surge in hospitalizations and deaths. Hospitals are under tremendous pressure, which means delays and changes in normal care, because nervous providers get twice the result with half the effort.
“Colorado’s hospitals are in a critical condition. Over the past few weeks, our ICU and emergency care beds have exceeded 90%. Unfortunately, this situation does not seem to end in the near future,” said Calaway, spokesperson for the Colorado Hospital Association. Elch said.
Diann Cullen, 72, a retiree in Broomfield, Colorado, was told by her doctor that her hernia surgery would have to be postponed for several weeks. Her reaction was: “Depressed, extremely depressed, actually angry because I said something bad. … He told me bluntly that we couldn’t even do it because there were too many COVID patients.”
Robin Wittenstein, chief executive of Denver Health, said that the hospital is in crisis due to the plethora of patients with COVID-19, the need for delayed care, and the shortage of staff. The company operates the largest in the state. One of the hospitals and clinic systems.
“They are now in more serious condition when entering the hospital than ever before. And they are more in number than we have seen before,” Wittenstein announced in most metropolitan districts and counties. Develop a new directive for indoor public masks“Our system is on the verge of collapse.”
At the academic medical center UCHealth, Dr. Abbey Lara said that the large number of unvaccinated patients in the ICU means patients have to wait longer or they cannot get much-needed diagnostic tests. In the worst case, “the lives of patients who could have survived are shortened because they cannot get care,” she said.
Lala said that when too many patients are treated by too few staff, it makes it more difficult for providers.
“I’m just worried that not only will there be a lot of turnover in the near future,” Lala said. “But I think the future access to healthcare will only get worse.”
Laura predicts that the effects of the pandemic will be felt for a long time after the emergency is over: “The sky has not fallen, but the sky will become a completely different color.”
In Longmont, Colorado, about 50 miles north of Denver, nearly one-third of the registered nurses at Longmont United Hospital have left since early July. Many have not been replaced. Chris Cross, who has been a nurse for 32 years In particular. She supports nurses’ efforts to establish a union there.
When nurses and doctors feel powerless to take actions that they believe are ethically correct in treating patients, their pressure is compounded.
Denver Health Hospital resident Dr. Barbara Statland (Barbara Statland) said that there is a term for this, namely “moral dilemma.” The tension came, “Because you can’t do what you think is morally correct. What I want to say is that the medical staff are very confused about this.”
Despite the stress and pain, many frontline providers are still there and continue to care for patients every day. This is different for at least one COVID patient, and he said he is grateful that he was able to get care in time.
“They saved my life. I am really grateful for everything they did,” said 58-year-old Rob Blessing of Fort Collins.
He contracted the virus this fall and spent 30 days in the intensive care unit with pneumonia at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. He described the efforts of his doctors and nurses as heroic, with some working for 9 to 10 days in a row and many working overtime. Blessing said that others are filling the vacancies.
“Normally, people from different departments are receiving training,” Blessin said. “So people are under a lot of pressure. They just want to put warm bodies in.”
Respiratory therapists in the hospital are in short supply, and Bressing said that as more and more coronavirus patients are admitted to the hospital, it is difficult for staff to keep up.
Blessin said he was sent to the hospital because he was influenced by misinformation on the Internet and was not vaccinated. This is a decision he regrets.
“I think my suggestion is to take drugs, you know, even if you are totally against it; don’t get caught up in Internet hype,” Blessing said.
After he was hospitalized for the coronavirus for a month and talked to the doctor there, he now plans to get the vaccine.
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.