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St. Claire Regional Medical Center overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:15 PM EDT
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MOREHEAD, Ky. (WKYT) - As the debate on COVID-19 booster shots continues, hospitals across the Commonwealth are still reporting overwhelming numbers.

St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead is having trouble finding space and staff to take care of patients.

“This is not a political party or a religion in here. This isn’t about constitutional freedoms,” said Dr. Brad Baker. “This virus is an evil, evil thing.”

Around 80 patients are being treated, according to Baker. Close to 40 of them are staying in the hospital.

“You can’t ask nurses to take care of any more people than they’re already taking care of,” Baker said.

Nurse Chyann Hanson is concerned she’ll bring the virus home to her one-year-old daughter Lily.

“She wants to run straight to me when I walk through the door, and she can’t,” Hanson said. “Some days it makes me feel like a bad mom because I am supposed to be there for my daughter, but I am a nurse and my patients need me.”

You don’t need to walk through hospital doors to see signs of overwhelm. A tent was put up outside the hospital at the end of August. It’s being used to treat COVID-19 patients with Regeneron, a drug for people who have the virus, but who don’t need hospitalization.

It’s been a hard road for staff. In early September, the US Department of Health and Human Services sent 15 medical professionals from the National Disaster Medical System. They joined 15 National Guard members, who arrived a few days before. The hospital recently fired 23 staff members who refused the vaccine. 15 others were given a medical or religious exemption.

Dr. Baker says even in dark situations, hope can be found.

“I’ve had several people that I honestly didn’t expect they would make it,” Dr. Baker said. “Then, I get to go see them now and they’re walking, they’re talking, and you know it doesn’t get much better than that when this is your job.”

From July 1 to September 3, more than 80% of COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital were unvaccinated. Of the 15 COVID-related deaths reported during that time, one was fully vaccinated.

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