KU Health System doc: 'We are in the midst of a significant crisis'

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 19:14:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The chief medical officers from several Kansas City-area hospitals spoke with key community stakeholders Friday to discuss the state of ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Their message was one of urgency.

WATCH: Chief medical officers discuss COVID-19 during briefing on Aug. 6, 2021:

Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System, said of the times hospital leaders have gathered for similar updates, this one was more urgent than in the past.

"We are in the midst of a significant crisis," Stites said.

At Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, chief medical officer Dr. Darryl Nelson said the hospital is currently at 94% overall bed capacity.

"Specifically within our intensive care units, we're at 95% capacity," Nelson said.

Dr. Elizabeth Long, chief medical officer at Olathe Medical Center, said bed capacity at the hospital's ICU is full.

"We do not have one more bed to give to anybody," Long said.

At Children's Mercy Hospital, doctors are seeing an increase in viral illnesses like RSV.

Dr. Jennifer Watts, medical director for emergency preparedness, said the hospital is running "pretty full" most days.

"We are still able to take care of kids that show up and that need attention, but we are juggling some on a daily basis to figure out the best ways we can do that," Watts said.

Hospitals are also facing significant staffing shortages as workers are being exposed to COVID-19 out in the community.

Dr. Mark Steele, executive chief clinical officer for Truman Medical Centers/University Health said the hospitals currently have 40 workers out due to the virus.

"This is more than four times higher than it was three weeks ago," Steele said.

Stites said hospitals are also having to turn away transfers from other parts of the state.

He hopes elected officials, school leaders and the people of Kansas City will understand the urgency and listen to the solution.

"Vaccination is the long term answer to get out of this pandemic, masking is the short term answer to keep us all safe," Stites said.