Some Delaware hospitals have exceeded 100% bed capacity at certain points in recent weeks, as the state continues to battle a COVID-19 winter surge.
The alarming wave of new COVID-19 cases in Delaware, which state officials attribute mostly to the delta variant, has caused hospitalizations to jump by nearly 75% since Dec. 1.
The state broke its record twice last week for the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.
Hospitals are more overburdened now than at any point in the past two years, health system executives said. Patients are sometimes treated in hallways, due to the number of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 hospitalizations, officials said.
And staffing shortages are still troubling with significant burnout among health care workers.
About 78% of COVID-19 patients who have needed to be hospitalized are unvaccinated, according to state data.
ChristianaCare, the state’s largest health system, has been experiencing significant stress and is seeing capacity “trending upward at record levels,” said Sharon Kurfuerst, system chief operating officer.
“Over the past several weeks, our capacity status has been frequently over 100%, and we have been trending around 200 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at any given time,” she said in a statement. “These circumstances are extremely challenging, and we continue to take all necessary actions to be available for our community’s needs.”
If gathering during the holiday season, the state recommends getting tested one to two days before celebrating with people from multiple households. Those who are unvaccinated should wear a mask when indoors, as should people who have weakened immune systems.
Hospital doctors also are urging patients not to come into the emergency department, for example, to be tested for COVID-19 if they are experiencing mild symptoms.
It’s unclear precisely how filled hospital ICU and inpatient beds are. A public federal database tracks this hospital data, but Delaware health systems said this information is inaccurate.
Yet Delaware hospital officials declined to provide this data.
The state does not keep the data either. A spokeswoman for the Division of Public Health wrote in an email that it is not “DPH’s data and therefore not ours to share.”
Neighboring states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, each provide some type of public information about hospital census and capacity. Delaware provides only the total number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations, daily admissions and the number of “critical” patients.
Kevin Snyder, vice president of communications for Bayhealth, said these numbers should in no way discourage people with emergencies from going to the hospital.
“If someone is in dire need of medical attention the worst thing they can do is not to go to the ER,” he said. “Use appropriate care, your (primary care physician), your urgent care, but if you’re in an emergency, don’t delay.”
Contact Meredith Newman at (302) 256-2466 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MereNewman.