'This is a tornado warning to our community,' Dr. Steven Stites warns of rising COVID-19 cases

University of Kansas Health System
Posted at 11:00 AM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 12:00:21-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City-area medical chiefs are sounding the alarm as COVID-19 cases rise in the metro.

The University of Kansas Health System hosted the Kansas City area top medical officers during their Morning Medical Call on Friday.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Stites voiced his concerns about the rising cases and the recent spread of the omicron variant.

"Hospitals are full. There's no place to go. Our staff are tired," Stites said. "We're gonna run out of travelers and omicron is at our doorstep. This is a tornado warning to our community."

The University of Kansas Health System currently has 45 active infections with 13 of those cases in the ICU and nine people on a ventilator. Seven of those people in the hospital are fully vaccinated.

"Just to put that into perspective as well, the 45 active patients, two weeks ago we had 31 active patients," Dr. Dana Hawkinson said. "And one month ago we had 18 active patients."

AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Chief Medical Officer Lisa Hays said that they currently had 37 active infections with seven of those cases in the ICU and six on a ventilator. Hays said in mid-November, AdventHealth only had 12 active infections, and in the month of December, they had 13 deaths due to COVID-19.

Dr. Jennifer Watts, chief emergency management officer for Children's Mercy hospital, said their hospital currently has 14 patients and three of those are in the ICU.

Dr. Kimberly Megow, chief medical officer for HCA Midwest Health, said that 14% of their inpatients across all health facilities are COVID patients.

Megow also warned of impending bed shortages in the area, stating that HCA Midwest Health's KC facilities currently have 43 patients in their emergency rooms waiting for inpatient beds.

"We have no med surge capacity this morning. No beds available and only 12 ICU beds across the market are available this morning," Megow said. "So really tight, that capacity as well as staffing, and unfortunately our death rate is over 11% for COVID patients and just to give you a little perspective, we've had more than a tripling of our COVID volume in the last three weeks. So it is very alarming."

Dr. Raghu Adiga, chief medical officer at Liberty Hospital, said that his hospital has 33 COVID-19 inpatients - five of those are in the ICU and three are on ventilators. Adiga also said that about 90% of their cases are unvaccinated people and 100% of people in the ICU are unvaccinated.

Chief Medical Officer at North Kansas City Hospital Dr. Jim Stewart said his hospital has 90 active infections with between 85% to 90% of those patients not vaccinated.

Dr. Mark Steele, executive chief clinical officer at University Health, said that University Health has 62 active infections making up almost 20% of their capacity. Steele said that is double the number of COVID-19 patients they saw last week and six times higher than a month ago. University Health has had nine deaths in December so far.

Dr. Elizabeth Long, chief medical officer with Olathe Health, said Olathe Health has 41 active cases which is 27% of their bed capacity.

Kansas City VA Chief of Staff Dr. Ahmad Batrash said his hospital has 17 COVID patients and just last week three unvaccinated patients died due to COVID-19.