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Hendricks County hospitals prepare for more COVID-19 patients over Thanksgiving

Hannah Blakley, RN at IU Health West in Avon prepares for the job with protective gear. (Photo by IU Health West)

By Lindsay Doty

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season heads into full swing, the team at Indiana University Health West in Avon is preparing to handle an increase in COVID-19 patients.

“We are seeing a concerning increase in patients with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization, but there are currently enough beds for us to balance daily admissions and discharges in order to care for the patients who need us,” said IU Health West spokesperson Berkley Rios.

As of Tuesday morning, IU Health West reported having 41 COVID-positive patients at the hospital, which fluctuates daily. The team is prepared to handle more patients if COVID-19 numbers surge with holiday gatherings and travel.

“Our team members are well-prepared to care for those who need it and we have plans in place for increasing capacity if necessary, including moving non-COVID patients to lower acuity care settings and we’ve created a central inventory of critical resources like ventilators and personal protective equipment so they can be shifted to facilities with the most need,” said Berkley.

According to the data released on Nov. 23 by the IU Health system statewide, there are 380 IU Health patients statewide who have confirmed cases of COVID-19.  An additional 28 patients are waiting for test results, for a total of 408 patients. The state’s largest health system shares weekly pandemic data online from its laboratory. 

The hospital reports that 73% of ICU beds are in use statewide across the IU Health system. 

While the numbers are updated weekly, ICU bed numbers at a hospital can change at any given time based on non-ICU beds that can be turned into ICU beds with the right staff and equipment.

For the IU Health staff, the new data says out of 13,470 IU Health team members who were tested for COVID-19, 2,058 tested positive for the virus.

As Indiana numbers continue to rise, hospitals are reminding people to make good choices over Thanksgiving weekend. In a message posted to Facebook, IU Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rocky Singh said, ‘Now is the time to rethink approaches to holiday plans and ensure best practices are in place. It’s key we work to avoid crowds, keep groups small and plan ahead, to ensure precautions—such as mask-wearing and social distancing—can be followed.”

IU Health has tightened visitations guidelines this month to minimize the spread of the virus.

As of Nov. 19,  the hospitals stopped allowing visitors unless they fall under a list of exceptions where patients may receive one designated consistent visitor.

Exceptions for two visitors are considered for the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and end-of-life situations.

“As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the midst of this surge, we are asking everyone to be mindful about how they can help fight the spread of COVID-19.” said Michelle Fenoughty, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Hendricks Regional Health.

“A big part of why we are seeing an increase in cases beyond what we experienced in the spring is that more people are gathering together inside. We know that 40% of those carrying the virus don’t have symptoms, but are still contagious. This is why wearing your mask and practicing social distancing this holiday season matters more than ever as we work together to turn this pandemic trajectory around.”

“There is power in numbers. Seemingly small actions like washing your hands and wearing a mask can add up to a big impact in protecting yourself, your family and those battling the virus on the frontlines.” Fenoughty said. 

Hendricks Regional Health in Danville has made similar changes to its visitor policy.

Effective Nov. 17, there are new restrictions to safeguard patients. 

Hospitalized patients may not receive visitors at this time. Exceptions will be made only in specific circumstances: end-of-life care, pediatric and childbirth center patients, patients who require assistance for mobility, intellectual or cognitive impairments, or safety concerns (two people may be designated, only one visitor/day at a time). No visitors are allowed in emergency departments and drivers will be asked to remain in their cars. 

For more restrictions and guidelines: http://hendricks.org/coronavirus

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