Indiana hospitals make plea to Hoosiers: ‘The situation is dire’

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Warning that they are running out of beds and the situation is getting critical, three large hospital systems in central Indiana are pleading with Hoosiers to get vaccinated, boosted, tested and wear masks.

Indiana University Health, Community Health Network and Eskenazi Health rolled out a marketing campaign on Sunday with a stark message: “We can’t do this alone.”

“The situation is dire,” read a full-page ad in The Indianapolis Star on Sunday. “We have more patients in our hospitals than we have beds. We’re converting available units into critical care wards, just to make room. And as you know, healthcare workers across the country are exhausted and running out of steam.”

The campaign includes print, radio, TV and social media outlets.

It’s the latest signal that Indiana hospitals are facing a tipping point in the COVID-19 pandemic that is filling beds around the state.

The ad coincided with news that Indiana health officials identified the first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in an unvaccinated Hoosier. The specimen was collected on Dec. 9 and confirmed as an omicron variant by lab tests this past weekend.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 tripled in recent weeks to 3,029 on Wednesday. By Sunday, the total had slipped a bit to 2,971. The pandemic high was 3,460 on Nov. 20, 2020.

On Monday, state health officials reported that only 16% of intensive care unit beds were available statewide.

“We Can’t Do This Alone” is the name of the marketing campaign, which implores Hoosiers to roll up their sleeves and get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot. The campaign also urges people to get tested if they have symptoms, and inform others with whom they have been in contact.

Yet only about half of Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated, despite months of public service announcements and news stories. Indiana ranks 43rd among all states for the percentage of people fully vaccinated (51.7%), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, several hospital system confirmed they have begun delaying elective surgeries and procedures again and warned they were operating near full capacity.

Several hospital systems, including Indiana Health and Ascension St. Vincent, have enlisted the Indiana National Guard to help during the latest surge.

Hospitals are also dealing with a severe shortage of nurses and other patient-care professionals, many of whom have retired, quit or taken administrative jobs.

The marketing campaign was organized by Community Health Network, as part of its crisis response to the pandemic, spokeswoman Kris Kirschner said.

She said Community reached out to IU Health, Eskenazi, Franciscan and Ascension St. Vincent.

“IU Health and Eskenazi were able to respond in the short time needed to meet publication deadlines,” she said in an email to IBJ. “As we broaden our scope of messaging, we are hoping other health systems will join us in this campaign.”

Joe Stuteville, media relations manager for Franciscan Health Central Indiana, told IBJ on Monday that the health system fully supported the advertisement that ran in Sunday’s edition of the Star.

“Certainly, Franciscan Health and all local hospitals have worked closely to protect the health and safety of patients, staffs and all Hoosiers throughout the pandemic,” he wrote in an email.

Ascension St. Vincent did not immediately respond to IBJ about why it did not participate in the print advertisement.

The marketing campaign tells Hoosiers that it will take the work of all to turn the pandemic around.

“Our strength is in our ability to come together,” the print ad says. “And it is together that we will finally see our way out of this.”

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23 thoughts on “Indiana hospitals make plea to Hoosiers: ‘The situation is dire’

  1. Some hospitals are actually making money off of the whole Covid nightmare. They would never say so publicly but this is true. The more beds the can fill up, the more money Dennis Murphy and his yes squad can pad their pockets with.

    1. It’s time to stop letting the unvaccinated destroy the health care system of this country. We are losing HCP’s to burnout and those with non-COVID illnesses can’t get the care they need.

      Most all of the COVID deaths since August have been preventable if people would just do what Trump says to do, get vaccinated and get your booster.

      “Donald Trump was met with boos when he revealed he had received a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday. Trump made the revelation after telling a mostly unmasked crowd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas that they should “take credit” for the coronavirus vaccines developed during his presidency.”

    2. Nice to see Joe B.’s authoritarian leanings on a regular basis. And yes, people can thoughtfully disagree with a politician. That does not automatically make them wrong.

    3. Authoritarian? You mean like prohibiting businesses from their own vaccine mandates, or mandating that religious exemptions be accepted no matter how flimsy they are?

      “Thoughtfully disagree”. Yeah, thoughtful wasn’t the word to go with there. Anti-vaxers are wrong as the day is long. They were wrong before Covid and they remain wrong. Turning down a shot that dramatically reduces the chance you suffocate to death or end up with a stroke from blood clots is not noble or a sign of higher thinking, it’s a sign you should be nominated for the Darwin Awards.

      If health care is to the point where we are out of beds and staff, then it’s time to implement rationing of care and be loud about it. Let everyone know that capacity is being saved for non-COVID cases, like that person who had a heart attack or got hit by a drunk driver or Grandma who fell and broke her hip. For the COVID cases, those with the best outcomes should be prioritized for care… and those who aren’t being vaccinated are those suffering the worst outcomes.

    4. Joe B. ~ Spot on, as usual. I just can’t understand why Republicans are so eager to see their voters die.

    5. It’s amazing, Brent … we have reached the point where COVID is a Republican killer.

      It was nice of Trump to come out over the weekend to re-sell vaccines and shout down those who booed him … but it’s far too late, if you don’t have two shots in your arm right now you’re in trouble. His voters are far too dug in and against vaccines and legitimate medical treatments, and omicron is going to infect everyone.

      “ Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That’s according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic.”

      “NPR looked at deaths per 100,000 people in roughly 3,000 counties across the U.S. from May 2021, the point at which vaccinations widely became available. People living in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.73 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump saw higher COVID-19 mortality rates.”

    6. Just K must stand for “just Krazy”… do you really think hospitals make more money by having Covid patients when they then have to shut down elective surgeries which are by far the biggest moneymaker? You are showing your blatant ignorance!

    7. Sorry, Just K, but you have no idea what you are talking about. The COVID patients are sicker and more expensive to care for than the elective surgery cases they displace. The hospitals are losing money on caring for COVID patients. This is coming from a physician working closely with administration.

  2. Unfortunately, the above comment is not accurate and gives one the impression that the there is some type of conspiracy by the hospitals. READ the article above to get some basic information. If the citizens of Indiana would be doing their part by getting vaccinated and booster, the hospitals would not be so overwhelmed now. It appears that individuals who are reluctant to get vaccinated mostly change their tune when they or a member of their family gets deathly ill with COVID. Matters are made substantially worse when the government of STATE, from the top down, are NOT treating this pandemic seriously. It is absolute insanity that the top priority of our State legislators is to prevent employers from mandating vaccinations. Public health has received little or no attention for many many years by our State. We are now suffering the consequences!!!!!!!!

    1. Of course, there will be individuals who were not vaccinated and only got mild disease. In rough figures, that is probably true for 80% of people who come down with Covid. However, even individuals who experience only mild symptoms can develop problems secondary to COVID, hence the name ” long haulers.” It is in that 20% group where serious illness occurs. It is totally unknown why some are in the 80% group and why some are in the 20% group. The risk factors help to focus attention on the more likely individuals who might do poorly. However, perfectly health individuals with no risk factors can get severe disease and die. Science has not yet been able to determine yet who is going to contract the virus and who is going to get deathly ill with it. Knowledge is evolving. Unfortunately, the virus is constantly mutating. We can only hope that treatments and vaccines can keep up with the race.

  3. Hopefully the transmissibility of Omicron will sweep the Delta variant off the field — which will likely be a great blessing, NOT the Armageddon that public health officials keep intimating. Although almost never covered by the media, the evidence says that Omicron is far less lethal, AND its sweeping the country will leave the best immunity possible to further variants. Hysteria has become SO boring.

    1. Really? Who says infections caused by the Omicron variant will leave it its victims with better immunity? Provide your source(s) please.

  4. Initial and very preliminary reports did indicate Omicron MIGHT be less lethal. Newer data from the UK indicates that this may NOT be so true. The message has been very clear from the start with Omicron. The information is evolving as cases increase in the US. The most reasonable approach is to error on the side of safety and to get boosted, mask up and socially distance. Time will tell what additional measures may be needed.

    1. The math is working against your argument. If omicron is much more transmissible, it will cause a lot more infections. Even if most are “less severe”, the same number of people could be hitting ERs and hospitals.

  5. Heed the warning, people. This is a carefully vague way of the hospitals letting you know they are out of room, out of staff, and all you nonmaskers and nonvaxxers need to quit expecting them to bail you out when you start to suffocate on your own lung fluid. And also, you all have made it so Barbara can’t get her foot surgery to walk again, and Bob post-stroke will be in a unit interspersed with covid patients and the nurses will not have adequate time for him or them. And hey, that 18% of ICU available is actually now down to small town-sized hospitals with basic ventilator skills. All the high-level severe ICUs are crammed full until someone dies and creates an opening. This degree of mess is your fault, antimaskers/ antivaxxers. Good luck with those last gurgly breaths.

  6. Remember back when the pandemic started and there was that graph that showed what would happen if we had no mitigations, no masking, no closing of businesses, no efforts to flatten the curve? Insanely high number of cases that passed over the course of a couple months.

    My personal opinion is that is what we are looking at with omicron. Omicron is so contagious that everyone is going to get it, the virus has evolved to where it will infect even the boosted and make them sick, but the vaccine will kick in and prevent hospitalization or death. And now, everyone has pandemic fatigue, those who don’t want to get vax-ed don’t care, and those who are vax’d … are willing to take their chances with an infection that is likely just to make them feel like they’re having a cold or flu.

  7. When it first popped up here in the US, it was quickly 0.4% (of new cases), a week later, it was 3%, right now, it’s 73%. It’s just a matter of time before one of the variants becomes as deadly as delta and as contagious as omicron.
    Well, Soylent Green (1973) was set in 2022 (if you haven’t seen it, you must). I’m thinking there wouldn’t be a need for front loaders to haul the crowds away. Covid’s going to do most of the work on its own by the fools who won’t get vaccinated — saying, “But it’s untested” isn’t going to fly because the people who get sick are going to want the nifty new drugs which have recently been approved and those have even less testing than the vaccine. I don’t understand the logic.

  8. Sorry, Just K, but you have no idea what you are talking about. The COVID patients are sicker and more expensive to care for than the elective surgery cases they displace. The hospitals are losing money on caring for COVID patients. This is coming from a physician working closely with administration.

    1. Show us the data. Show us the reimbursement rates by code and how the government is “hurting the hospital.”

      The balance sheets show otherwise.

      And many of your physician peers disagree.

      (Pssst – also in healthcare)

  9. We have NO governmental system in our State to protect its citizens during this pandemic. No leadership, No policy, No solutions. The governor on down is willing to let the disaster unfold and get worse. The economy and financial gain is the mantra for State government officials. First comes in the National Guard, and now a Navy medical corp has been brought in to help the hospitals deal with the overwhelming. Members of the State Department of Health should resign in protest since it obvious that they are ineffective. Get a new group of serious health care providers to run the program and have a serious impact. IBJ should take back its award for our State Health Commissioner for her current poor performance. Indiana needs outside health experts to get us back on tract during these terrible times.