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IU Health: COVID cases may have peaked in hospital system

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IU Health leaders said on Thursday that 274 people died in its hospitals through Wednesday, the highest total since December 2020.

But, doctors say, we may be turning the corner on the latest COVID-19 surge. IU Health authorities on Thursday had a virtual news conference.

Chris Weaver, vice president and chief clinical officer, said, “IU Health, across our system, is now at 567 COVID-positive patients inside our hospitals. Across our 16 hospitals today, I believe 27 of those are at Riley Children’s Hospital.”

Weaver adds the number is down from a peak of 640. However, 70% of IU Health’s COVID patients are not vaccinated, and the number is even higher for intensive care patients

The state’s largest health system is still suffering from a staff shortage, which was an issue long before the omicron variant emerged.

Dr. Michelle Saysana, chief quality and safety officer, said, “Because the cases of omicron is declining, so is our number of staff that are quarantining, but that still doesn’t get us to normal staffing patterns that we’d like to be at.”

IU Health supplemented its staff with traveling nurses and National Guard troops. IU Health hopes to resume elective procedures next week. Officials say there are hundreds of backlogged surgeries that need to be performed, and the availability of surgeons varies depending on the hospital.

Paul Calkins, associate chief medical executive, said, “We’re going to have to start slowly because we have a significant COVID burden. Plus remember, a lot of our surgery people are home with COVID right now.”

Another challenge facing IU Health is the microchip shortage. It has caused a delay in hospitals receiving certain medical equipment.