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Indiana mom visits 3 health facilities before finding COVID help for child

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A soon-to-be mom of five, Erica Pickett says she went to three different health facilities to get help when her 7-year-old daughter spiked a fever while having the coronavirus.

Pickett says everyone in her home on Wednesday is COVID-free. She’s at 21 weeks in her pregnancy, and says managing to quarantine her entire household and protect herself was tough. “I was terrified that I was going to get it and I didn’t know how sick I would get.”

Even more trying was what Pickett faced after her daughter first showed symptoms of COVID-19.

Indiana State Department of Health reported Wednesday that 2,436 Hoosiers are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. A total of 14,836 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19.

Pickett began by taking her daughter to Community Health Network’s MedCheck Greenwood. “We waited there for like 30 minutes,” Pickett said. “They called us up and told us that they could not see us and that they were not taking any walk-ins. And if we did wait, it would be several hours.”

Pickett says she then rushed her daughter across the street to IU Health Urgent Care-Greenwood and found they, too, were overwhelmed.

She and her daughter ended up at an Ascension St. Vincent hospital, where her daughter got treatment. However, she says, the hospital had to bring in an extra doctor because they were understaffed.

“We went to St. Vincent ER (emergency room), and we were there for like nine hours,” Pickett said. “I just felt helpless.”

Community Health Network says walk-ins are welcome at their MedCheck facilities, but visitors are warned of longer wait times due to the volume of those walking in. A spokesperson says that they “do offer virtual triage and then a COVID test if need to help decrease the volumes.”

St. Vincent Hospital says that, as of Wednesday, it had 64 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 across their hospitals in central Indiana. Out of the 64 people, 28 of them are in intensive care units.

I-Team 8 found those health groups are not alone in trying to manage the surge of COVID-19 cases.

“People who have problems unrelated to COVID, who need hip surgery or have a heart attack or a stroke, and may not be accessed,” said Dr. Graham Carlos, chief medical officer at Eskenazi Health.

Carlos says Eskenazi Health was at full capacity on Wednesday.

“It’s a big problem that limits access to care. Hospitals run tight because of budgets and are needing to make budgets. And so to do that, you need a relatively full hospital to run at about 85%-90% capacity, so that doesn’t leave a lot of surge capacity.” 

Other health care providers around Indianapolis are seeing the same.

IU Health says that “a few of our hospitals have had to go on critical care diversion off and on as patient volumes grow and resources are limited.”