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Health Care Heroes Week underway to honor Kentuckians on frontlines of pandemic

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 12:03 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - We’re now 17 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and those on the frontlines have worked tirelessly to save lives.

Governor Andy Beshear has declared this week Health Care Heroes Appreciation Week. Health Care Heroes Week started Sunday and runs through the weekend.

(Watch WKYT’s full interview with Gov. Beshear below)

Considering what everyone who works in health care is having to go through right now, it only seems fitting that they be recognized.

As the delta variant fills up emergency rooms and ICUs, largely with unvaccinated people, we’ve heard from doctors and nurses asking people to continue taking precautions, and get vaccinated.

Dee Beckman, the chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Lexington, told us me they appreciated the governor’s kind gesture. She also said the numbers they’re seeing now are similar to what they had at the height of the pandemic.

“I think it’s difficult because we felt like we had that break in the summertime, Beckman said. “Soak up the Fourth of July weekend and we all felt like you know we were making headway and we had some relief so it’s really hard to kind of roll back to those previous restrictions. But they still hold true today.”

Gov. Beshear emphasized that in Alabama they have run out of bed in their ICUs.

We aren’t at that level yet, but health care leaders have told us their hospitals will be pausing elective procedures because so many of the resources are being used treating Covid patients.

Jenny Renaud, the assistant patient care manager for the medicine ICU at UK, told us, unlike earlier in the pandemic, staffing, not supplies, is their biggest issue.

“Concerning is where do we go now? We’re already short staffed,” Renaud said. “We’re expecting the peak later in September, early October. So, where are these patients going to go? How are we gonna get the staff?”

They’ve also seen some workers have to miss days because of the spread of Covid at schools.

“With students going back to school, and some of those children are being quarantined, staff are having to stay home and take care of them as well,” Renaud said.

Not only is the governor calling for people to make sure health care workers know they are appreciated, but also for people to take the virus seriously.

“And now, these folks need it more than ever. Because people should know that our concern isn’t that we run out of a physical bed in a hospital for somebody that needs help. What we’re running out of are the staff. The nurses, and the doctors to take care of us. And when that happens, it’s not just Covid patients that suffer. It’s anyone in a car accident or has a heart attack or stroke. Those are real major concerns,” Gov. Beshear said.

A spokesperson for Baptist Health told us they hope the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine will be one less hurdle for people who are still hesitant about getting that shot.

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