Doctors push for vaccines as Kansas, Missouri hospitals become overwhelmed

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The COVID-19 crisis and the Delta variant surge are overwhelming hospitals on both sides of the state line.

While the virus has a grip on our health care systems, doctors are outraged.

“I tell you what, if you want to see tiredness, if you want to see exhaustion, go look in the eyes of the nursing staff right now in the COVID wards,” said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System.

Doctors worry people aren’t listening to the facts and are ignoring the vaccine as infections, deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise.

“I think we’re in trouble,” Stites said. “I said before last fall that we were on fire, and I think we’re on fire again.”

Nurses and doctors are stretched thin and overwhelmingly, the patients needing hospital care now are not vaccinated. It’s tiring work, doctors say.

“When you see people, who are struggling to breathe and they’re ill, and then some of them ultimately die, that’s not something people enjoy having to experience day in and day out,” said Dr. Mark Steele, executive chief clinical officer at Truman Medical Centers/University Health.

KU Health System reports 63 active COVID-19 patients with 21 in intensive care.

Across state line, Truman Medical Centers has 49 COVID-19 inpatients. That’s the total between their downtown campus and Lakewood campus. That’s a bit lower than its new high last week of 66.

Saint Luke’s Health System has 146 patients in treatment for COVID-19 across all its hospitals. That group’s peak in mid-January was 200.

“We know if people were to go ahead and heed our advice and get fully vaccinated, that we wouldn’t be seeing the demand on hospitalizations and the ongoing deaths that we’re currently experiencing,” Steele said.

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