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University Of Utah Doctors, Nurses Plead For Help As ICU Hits 99% Capacity

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah saw another record-setting day for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and doctors and nurses at the University of Utah said they won’t be able to provide quality care to everyone who needs it if nothing changes.

State health officials reported 1,960 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and 313 people were hospitalized. University Hospital officials said they are officially in their surge plan as the ICU hit 99% capacity.

“A bed is a bed — it is not a staffed bed. It will not save your life,” said Kencee Graves with University Hospital. “So that 99% capacity for us, that is our capacity to take care of our patients, and we are getting really slim. That is ICU for everything — that is septic shock, that is MIs, heart attacks, strokes.”

The hospital has started pulling resources from their clinics, which means fewer care providers are available at those locations. They have also increased work hours for staff and started canceling surgeries that require a hospital stay.

Staff members said they are exhausted. One ICU nurse told KSL she has been working an average of 50 hours a week.

“The hardest part of these seven months has been watching my patients sit alone in a hospital room for days, weeks and even months,” said ICU nurse Katrina Emery. “I’ve watched as my patient was finally able to hug their spouse after 90 days. Can you imagine being in a hospital for 90 days without the touch or hug from your family? Can you imagine what it must feel like, being surrounded by strangers who look like aliens because they are covered in layers of PPE?

“This isn’t sustainable and we’re exhausted. But it’s not so easy to hire new nurses. This hasn’t been easy for anyone. But all I ask is you do what you can to protect yourself, protect me and protect our communities.”

Until numbers improve, surgeries that include hospital stays have been canceled.

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