‘Nothing like I’ve ever seen’: KC hospital forced to turn down 70% of transfer requests

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hospitals are stretched thin with exhausted staff trying to manage a growing number of patients.

The majority of people hospitalized in Kansas City are there for reasons other than COVID-19, but there are still hundreds of people hospitalized with the virus. Doctors said those patients add stress to an already stressed workforce.

According to the Kansas Hospital Association, more than 800 people are hospitalized in the Kansas City area with COVID-19. Of the 34 hospitals in the Kansas City metro, there are only 119 adult ICU beds available. The Mid-America Regional Council said the number of available ICU beds drops under 100 if you look at only the immediate metro.

Add in that eight of the 34 Kansas City metro hospitals also anticipate critical staffing shortages this week, according to the KHA, and health experts say it’s a nightmare trying to find hospitals to take parents who need treatment.

“Historically have averaged about 800 or 900 transfer requests a month,” Dr. Tim Williamson, vice president of quality and safety at the University of Kansas Health, said during a hospital briefing Friday. “Back in November of last year, we hit a record high of 1,200 requests. In July, we broke that, we got 1,500 requests in July.”

Williamson and other doctors at the University of Kansas Health System said the situation has only become more dire in August, as the requests for transfers continues to pour into the hospital.

“In the past few weeks, it’s been like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Williamson said. “And we actually are currently on pace to be over 2,000 requests for the month, which is just the highest number that we’ve ever seen.”

The health system said it can only take a small number of the requests because the hospital is so full right now.

“We’re having to decline maybe 70% of those just because of the sheer volume doesn’t match up with, you know, our capacity,” Williamson said.

In other areas of the hospital, there are times that people have to wait hours to be seen by a doctor in the emergency department.

Health experts said the best way you can help is to get a COVID-19 vaccination and wear a mask while indoors in a public place.

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