Delta variant 'burning through' Nashville; hospitalizations up 900% in 6 weeks statewide

Nashville, Tenn.-based hospitals are running low on beds, staff and morale, reports The Tennessean.

"There are no beds," wrote Geoff Lifferth, MD, CMO at Sumner Regional Medical Center of Gallatin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. "As an ER doc and a healthcare administrator, the past week has been one of the most exhausting and disheartening of my career. The delta variant has burned through us with a ferocity that's hard to describe."

While it took months for hospitals to hit capacity last winter, beds are filling up now in weeks. Physicians across Tennessee are having to transfer patients to other hospitals and often finding there is simply nowhere to send them.

Nashville General Hospital, a safety-net hospital, has been full for two weeks, said spokesperson Sherry Gibbs.

The state has activated the Middle Tennessee Transfer Coordination Center to help smaller hospitals transfer patients with urgent, specialty needs to larger facilities run by Ascension-Saint Thomas, TriStar and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. But even Vanderbilt has had to decline some transfers, with its emergency room and adult hospital "completely full," said spokesperson John Howser.  

In just six weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide rose from 200 to more than 2,000, though the surge hasn't yet hit January's hospitalization peak of about 3,200 patients.

About 1,000 hospital beds and 150 ICU beds were unfilled across the state as of Aug. 12, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. However, many of the beds are unstaffed, with Tennessee hospitals operating with about 1,000 fewer employees than they had at the start of the pandemic, according to federal labor reports cited by The Tennessean.  


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