August 20, 2021
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Health Care Heroes Appreciation Week will begin Aug. 22 as health care workers continue extraordinary efforts to treat patients during the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and record ICU admissions.
“Kentucky’s health care teams are tired. They are overworked and have been for 17 months. We have asked a lot of them, and they have stepped up yet again to work countless hours to save lives in every corner of the commonwealth. Now, we need to lift them up,” Governor Beshear said.
“One of the things I wanted to stress for our community is that you’re not just doing this for yourself,” said William Moss, MD, emergency room medical director at Med Center Health in Bowling Green. “When we’re crowding the hospitals with COVID-19 cases, that’s somebody’s neighbor whose arm is broken who will have to wait longer; that’s somebody’s neighbor who is going to have a heart attack and possibly have a delay in getting care; that’s somebody who is going to have a stroke and because emergency medical services (EMS) have so many runs, they’re not going to get to the hospital as quickly as they can. I want people to realize that stopping this surge is something that we’re doing for each other. Please consider getting the COVID-19 vaccination.”
“The Medical Center at Bowling Green is at capacity. Critical care units are full,” said Katrina Wood, RN, MSN, CNML, Med Center Health chief nursing officer. “We are unable to accept patients from outlying facilities who we normally take and who need our help. Our emergency departments have patients waiting for critical care almost every day. The way the community can help us take care of you is to get vaccinated.”
“The hospitals that we usually call when patients need that higher level of care is now calling us looking for available beds,” said Trish Smith, director of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare command center. “I hear the distress, the worry and the concern in their voices that patients will die if they don’t find the right level of care soon enough. Around 97% of the COVID-19 patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated. I am deeply concerned that we will not have the capacity to care for the next trauma patient, the next family member that has a stroke, the next neighbor having a heart attack.”
“We’re seeing a significant increase in the number of COVID patients both in the hospital and in our outpatient clinics. We’re using high-flow oxygen and ventilators at rates that we’ve never seen before in this hospital,” said John Godfrey, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of Baptist Health Hardin in Elizabethtown. “We really need everyone’s help.”
“We are no different than any other facility in the state of Kentucky: We are facing staffing challenges against rising patient volumes,” said Sharon Wright, vice president, and chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Hardin.
“What’s different this time around is that we now have a vaccine,” added Dennis Johnson, president, and chief executive officer of Baptist Health Hardin. “We know that while this vaccine is not perfect, it does four things that we’ve witnessed right here at our hospital: It reduces the severity of illness, reduces hospitalizations, reduces ICU admissions, and most importantly, reduces deaths. We’re pleading with every Kentuckian to please get vaccinated, wear a mask, and practice good hand hygiene and social distancing. Together we can wipe out this pandemic.”