SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Baystate Health has been seeing the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate since the pandemic began. We're getting answers on how all of these patients have been handled and whether field hospitals could come into play.
249 COVID patients are currently in Baystate hospitals, 202 of them are at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, the majority of them unvaccinated or younger people.
“Going over 200 is something that’s never happened before, and you say today we’re up 249 and things are still rising pretty sharply,” said Baystate Health President and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack.
He told Western Mass News that COVID-19 hospitalizations at Baystate Health reached an all-time high. We asked him where all of these patients are being treated.
“There are a number of units that are focused on the care of COVID patients,” Dr. Keroack said. “Some of them are intensive care units. Some of them are intermediate care units where it's three patients per nurse, and then, there are half a dozen or so specialized units that have most of the COVID patients.”
Western Mass News dug deeper. We wanted to know whether field hospitals, or even tents to extend capacity, could be considered to address the surge in patients.
“The issue with COVID patients is that they are really quite sick,” Dr. Keroack explained. “Many of them and some of them need all the resources of a modern hospital, so caring for them in a tent-like setting is probably not the best.”
However, Baystate Health got the word out that anyone wanting to make appointments for non-COVID routine care like wellness visits, mammograms or colonoscopies should submit a request, but appointments will not be scheduled until after February 14th.
As for the current COVID patients, we wanted to know how many of them are unvaccinated.
“Roughly 70 percent are unvaccinated,” Dr. Keroack told us.
That means about 174 patients with COVID-19 have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine compared to 75 patients who are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Keroack said that most of their 174 patients are younger people.
“The unvaccinated crowd, unfortunately, tends to be younger, because more older people have gotten the vaccine than younger people, and they tend to have these complicated conditions like diabetes and obesity,” he explained.
Western Mass News got word that non-COVID patients have gone to the ER and waited in the hallways on stretchers for a room. Dr. Keroack said that it is unfortunately true.
“There are people on stretchers in the emergency room for a room to open up, and obviously, the way to fix that is to get somebody discharged so there is an available bed for them," he said.
According to the latest data from the city of Springfield, 1,000 of their 2,300 cases were 21-to-40-year-olds.