Shawnee Mission hospital official forced to consider morgue capacity amid escalating COVID-19 surge

by Sherman Smith, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — At AdventHealth in Shawnee Mission, the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 has doubled in the past week to 82.

Another 25 people are waiting in the emergency room for a bed to become available, some for 48 hours.

Lisa Hays, the chief medical officer there, says the hospital nearly ran out of ventilators before new ones arrived this week, and the federal supply of antibody treatments used for COVID-19 patients can’t keep up with their needs.

“The other issue, a new thing for me, is morgue capacity,” Hays said. “Had to learn how many bodies our morgue could hold yesterday and determine whether that was going to be adequate for what our needs are.”

Hays joined other hospital leaders in a news briefing Wednesday hosted by the University of Kansas Health System. Pressure on medical care providers continues to build as the state sets new records for COVID-19 infections.

Hays said her staff is “on the brink.”

“Every day, when I round in the intensive care unit and check on the staff, people are in tears,” Hays said. “They’re struggling to get the community to understand how dire the situation is in the hospital and the workload that they’re taking on.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 27 new deaths, 22,240 new cases and 139 hospitalizations since Monday.

The number of new cases surpassed the previous two-day record of 16,341, set earlier this month. The average number of new cases for each of the past seven days is 7,448. Before the start of the month, the seven-day average had never topped 2,800 cases per day.

Catherine Satterwhite, a regional administrator for Health and Human Services, said ICU admissions typically trail infections by 14 days, and deaths trail by 21 days.

“In my head, I’m thinking it’s going to be a rough couple of weeks,” Satterwhite said.

The omicron variant has had a different effect on different parts of the country, and the Midwest is still seeing a sharp trajectory, Satterwhite said. Based on data from elsewhere in the world, health officials expect to see a sharp decline in new cases — but they don’t know when.

The number of unvaccinated will determine how long omicron hangs around, she said. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 57.6% of Kansans are fully vaccinated, including 68.8% of adults. Those numbers trail the national averages by about 5 percentage points.

At KU Health, only 18 of the 123 patients who are being actively treated for COVID-19 are fully vaccinated.

Satterwhite said federal officials have ventilators available for Kansas hospitals, but there aren’t enough monoclonal antibodies to meet hospital needs. The federal government is deploying all of the antibodies in the stockpile and not holding any back, Satterwhite said.

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2 thoughts on “Shawnee Mission hospital official forced to consider morgue capacity amid escalating COVID-19 surge”

  1. If you stop telling people that are vaccinated that they are not invincible (which they are not) and they can’t get COVID. Tell them to keep wearing your mask keep protecting yourself and your family. That’s not happening you have people thinking that because they have the shots that they can’t get COVID and they can’t die that is untrue please start stating the truth to everybody. It’s not the unvaccinated people that are spreading this it’s more vaccinated people that are spreading this so please let the truth tell people this.
    I have a question what was wrong with the people that died after taking the shot why did they die and why are some people getting very sick from the shot. This vaccine has not been out long enough for you to answer a lot of questions that people have for not taking a shot. You are experimenting on everybody this is not fair. When you say you must take it you better take it and you have to take this shot when you don’t have answers to a lot of questions that people have.
    People fill forced to take the shot.
    They don’t know if they are going to be sick or die.
    Most of us had family members die from COVID including me.
    Tell us why some die some don’t, some get very sick some don’t.
    Some people have very bad symptoms and some have hardly have any symptoms.
    This is people’s lives that you are affecting.
    You have no idea what long-term effect this has on anybody you can’t know.
    USA should have shut this country down for three weeks after February of 2020 instead of paying out billions of dollars. The military and national guard could have patroled the streets no one in and no one out.
    This would not have been impossible. Instead of giving people money a hotline# should have been set up.
    Think about it, if you use the schedule of our trash trucks which goes from house to house each week there would have been a delivery for everyone, for necessary essentials.
    Please start telling people that if you take the shot you can die and or get very sick. I’ve seen it happen and it can.
    Tell us the truth. If you don’t know what the truth is then tell us that.

  2. The fact that everyone’s body chemistry is unique to them, and their medical, situation should be the determining factor on getting any shot. The healthier you are the less risk. The folks that do not have good health and die from the shot does not mean the shot is bad. I only take direction from our medical doctors if and when the tell me I must do something. I do not listen to the politicians, they pretend to know much more than they actually do. Being over 75, I will always take the risk and get a shot for flu and any upcoming booster for this unusual disease.

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