LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Doctors in Lexington are asking for help, fearing hospitals will soon be overrun with COVID-19 patients.
Amid a fourth wave of the pandemic fueled by the Delta variant, their warnings are dire as they see the highest rate of cases since January.
"This virus has the potential to threaten everybody's family," said Dr. Roger Humphries, an ER doctor at UK Healthcare, during a virtual briefing Thursday morning. "It's gotten more infectious over time, rather than less."
Physicians from Baptist Health and CHI Saint Joseph Health were also on the call. Though all three doctors work at different hospitals, they all say the latest surge is stressing emergency rooms to capacity. Even with enough beds available, they're struggling to staff their facilities and scaling back on elective procedures.
"We're managing the volume, but it has become extremely busy, extremely crowded, and it's a major challenge," Dr. Humphries said.
Dr. David Dougherty's specialty is infectious diseases. He said with the rise of the Delta variant, they're also seeing younger and sicker patients.
"I'd like to stress this is impacting younger people; it seems to be a lot more than the original strain that was here last year," he said. "We have people in their 30's on a ventilator."
According to Dr. Dougherty, 54 COVID-19 patients are being treated at Baptist Health, and 13 of them are in the ICU.
A UK HealthCare spokesperson said as of Thursday morning, they are treating 72 COVID-19 patients. 31 are in the ICU, and seven are pediatric patients. 65 were unvaccinated. It's why these physicians are imploring Kentuckians to get the shot.
"We need people to get vaccinated because that's the part they can do," said Dr. Dan Rodrigue of CHI Saint Joseph Health. "That will decrease hospital admissions, decrease the strain on the system."
The three doctors stressed the importance and safety of the vaccines, explaining their colleagues and family members also got the shot.
Dr. Humphries said at this point, the fear of a COVID-19 infection should override anyone's fear of the vaccine. He likened getting the shot to wearing body armor.
"This is a race," he said. "The virus will find pretty much everybody over time. The question is, do you have any protection on board or not?"