St. Joseph Health System overcapacity, staffing strained due to Covid-19

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:16 PM EST
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY/MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - A concerning number of Covid-19 patients recently have been hospitalized within the St. Joseph Health System. CEO Chad Towner reported, as of Monday, 77 patients had the virus - a dramatic spike from early September, when 12 people were Covid-positive.

On alerting the community about the dire situation, Towner told 16 News Now: “Some people think, ‘Oh, that’s dramatic.’ And, ‘Oh, you’re just fearmongering. Oh, you’re getting people all anxious and spun up.’ This is what we’re really experiencing."

Recently, 21 percent of Covid-positive SJHS patients required at least one night in the hospital, a majority of whom stay 7 to 10 days, said Towner. On Monday, a testing site had to turn away people for the first time. On Tuesday, some surgeries were cancelled, and the health system was short 20 beds, as patients couldn’t be transported back to nursing homes, some of which had outbreaks.

“So there’s this complete log jam. It’s got every hospital in the region impacted by this,” Towner remarked. “It’s really setting up for what could be a very ugly December, even getting into January.”

Dozens of SJHS are also in quarantine.

“For people that are not willing to wear their mask and protect their neighbor, you could potentially be wiping out a surgeon that is going to save how many lives over the next month,” he raised.

After eight months, the pandemic has taken a major toll on certain healthcare heroes.

“As people get sick, some people are even choosing to leave the profession, because it’s just too much stress on them personally, and for their families. We had two nurses walk off the job and quit their career yesterday,” Towner explained.

Things to remember

Towner says it takes five to six days after exposure before the body has enough of the virus for it to be detected in a Covid-19 test.

“So if someone today out in the community thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I was exposed to someone last night,’ don’t go get a test today because it’s not - it’s going to be negative because it’s too soon to detect the virus when we do the swab in your nose, whether it’s a rapid test or any of the other tests,” he said.

Also, plan ahead for groceries, toiletries, and other essentials in case quarantine is required; this will prevent further public exposure, Towner emphasized.

The St. Joseph Health System Covid-19 Hotline is 574-335-8560.

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