Geisinger overwhelmed as health system runs out of beds and at 110% capacity

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MIFFLIN COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – COVID-19 patients are flooding Geisinger’s health system, with 90% of admissions being non-vaccinated patients.

Director of Hospital Medicine Dr. Naveen Yellapa says the surge has led to the health system being completely out of beds and them running at 110% capacity.

“You can handle that maybe one or two days. You know if it comes and gets really bad, you sort of work around it but if its been like that for weeks and now coming to months its just difficult,” said Yellapa.

Now, he says the surge is even starting to affect patient care.

According to Yellapa the goal for patients in the emergency department is to have them triaged, evaluated and roomed withon 10 minutes. But for the last two weeks, he says that hasn’t been the case.

“I looked at the numbers and I even had to ask are these correct? You can see the ED times on an average has been 30 minutes and we have some times where it’s been more than an hour. This is for the patient just to be triaged,” emphasized Yellapa.

He says the strain is not only being put on resources, but their already short-staffed human resources.

“The nursing staff, the physicians, the respiratory therapists. Even if you’re willing to pay them double, they don’t want to come back and work an extra shift,” said Yellapa.

But the shifts are more than just long, Yellapa describes them as devastating, as they are faced with tragedy after tragedy.

“We’ve had almost two, three members of the same families being wiped out. Before this we would see a death maybe once in couple of months. Some of my colleagues used to forget how to fill out the death certificate because we didn’t do it too often, such a rare occurrence. Last week in Lewistown, every night, every night I had someone die on me. Every night, I had one to two patients, and on my last night I had 3 patients pass away,” said Yellapa.

Yellapa says 90% of those deaths were COVD-19 patients, and with the new varient, he says only more are falling sick.

“We didn’t need to see all of this. We didn’t need all of this to happen,” said Yellapa.

By sharing what’s going behind hospital doors, Dr. Yellapa says he hopes people will see that this is a real issue and understand the gravity of the situation.

“I don’t know how else to put it. People are sick people are dying people are suffering. It’s worse than purgatory. People keep saying we are healthcare heroes but we don’t just want to be the heroes. We want everyone to be heroes and everyone can be. And what do we do? Mask up, social distance, and get your shots, its going to make a major difference,” said Yellapa.

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