During the weekly COVID-19 update provided by Indiana state government Wednesday, Sarah Paturalski, Beacon's VP of Nursing and Clinical Services, provided a gripping description of what it's like on the inside of area hospitals right now.
"This is not normal."
She said that Beacon is averaging one death a day and Beacon's staff has taken a vow for no one to die alone.
“There are patients that, unfortunately, we can’t meet their needs right now because we’re inundated. We have an abundance of patients – more than we can, quite frankly, handle right now,” Paturalski explained.
“We’ve taken a vow for no one to die alone … and sometimes this means that we are their family members and we are holding their hands as they pass – when just moments before, we tried to save them.”
She says the staff is talking to crisis counselors that have been brought in to help staff through this. She says death and dying has always been part of healthcare, but she says Beacon's staff is seeing deaths at a higher rate than ever and she says it is effecting every layer of Beacon's healthcare system.
She is pleading with the public to wear face masks.
She says that Beacon has already activated its surge plan and is currently ten ICU beds over the capacity the facility normally has.
"We are rationing care."
By that, Paturalski means that Beacon has slowed down its surgery schedule and has slowed down seeing patients for some preventive procedures because medical staff needs to focus on COVID-19 patients.
Below is an archived version of the press conference where Paturalski spoke. Her remarks start at about 27 minutes into the video.
Prior to Paturalski's remarks, state health officials shared their take on the latest COVID-19 trends. Dr. Kris Box, the state health commissioner, said that if you look at the number of cases per 100,000 residents, the entire state should be in "red." She is referring to the color coded county-by-county system that now shows 21 counties in red, up from nine last week.
50 hospitals in Indiana are preparing for the time when a vaccine is available. This comes at a time when hospital admissions due to COVID-19 are skyrocketing.