MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment.
The surge in the delta variant of the virus, combined with low vaccination rates, has pushed hospitals to the brink in many states and resulted in a desperate scramble to find beds for patients.
The issue is that large hospitals in urban areas already were running short of space and staff with non-COVID procedures like cancer biopsies and hip replacements when the summer surge started. That means they have very few free beds to offer to patients from small rural hospitals without ICUs or from medical centers in virus hotspots.
“Just imagine not having the support of your family near, to have that kind of anxiety if you have someone grow acutely ill,” said Steve Edwards, CEO of CoxHealth, whose hospital in Springfield, Missouri, is treating patients from as far away as Alabama.