IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie is “in full crisis mode,” according to its leader. Its affiliate hospitals in Jay and Blackford counties are in the same situation. The reason: COVID-19 and its delta variant infecting, for the most part, unvaccinated people.
Dr. Jeffrey Bird, the president of IU Health East Central Region, said COVID-19 is the worst that it’s ever been here. On Tuesday, IU Health Ball was treating 104 COVID-19 positive patients. These patients, Bird said, occupy approximately 40 percent of the hospital’s beds.
“About 90-95 percent of our in-patient admissions are in unvaccinated patients," Bird said. "It is all unvaccinated people who are dying, and who are needing intensive care and the ventilator.”
During last winter’s surge, the highest COVID-19 bed occupancy was 90. Bird said hospital staffers thought it could not get any worse than that.
He said almost a quarter of those hospitalized patients are “healthy 20-, 30-, and 40-year-olds.” The previous surges were among the elderly, according to hospital data. Bird said the staff is now seeing healthy, young unvaccinated people dying of COVID.
With so many beds full, Bird said the east central region of IU Health has had staffing challenges. The hospitals are now using traveling nursing services to fill local shortages.
Bird said the best ways to fight the pandemic and to stay healthy are to get vaccinated, mask up, wash our hands frequently, and avoid crowds.