KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an “exodus of health care workers” as low COVID-19 vaccination rates and society opening have pushed hospitals throughout the Kansas City metro to capacity, according to one area health care leader.
Kansas City, Missouri, EMS Medical Director Erica Carney said in a Facebook post that hospitalizations have increased from 30 per day to roughly 100 per day.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were ‘locked down’ and discouraged people from calling 911 and/or coming to the hospital unless it was a true emergency,” Carney wrote. “Elective surgeries were paused. That is no longer the case. Society has opened up. People are living normally. Hospitals have been fully open and functioning at nearly normal operations, and now they are full, and under staffed. An exodus of health care workers has also occurred as a fallout of the pandemic. Health care workers are tired.”
Bed availability for adults who need intensive care has been around 5% in the region, according to Carney, compared to 25% “just a couple weeks ago.”
“The sickest patient I had recently was a 30 year old who died from his second encounter with COVID,” Carney said. “His mother also died. And they had already been offered the vaccine but refused it just a month prior.”
The majority of the hospitalized COVID-19 cases are attributed to the more-infectious delta variant, and, of those, between 10% and 20% are vaccinated against the virus, Carney said, noting that vaccinations do not prevent infection.
“It does lessen the severity of the effects of COVID once you have the infection though," she said. "This means, it also lessens the likelihood of becoming a ‘long-hauler’ from COVID-19 and suffering with chronic symptoms. It lessens the ICU admissions and deaths directly caused by COVID.”
Emergency departments now are offering vaccinations, she said. But until the "majority of humans" are inoculated, Carney said the pandemic will continue.
“You will be tired of hearing about it. We are so tired of hearing people say, ‘It's not real. It's made up.’ We moved past measles, we moved past smallpox," she said. "You know who isn't tired? This dang virus.”