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Hutchinson Regional Medical Center gives first-hand look at COVID-19 challenges hospitals face

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 11:35 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - On Monday (Nov. 30), the U.S. set another daily record in the COVID-19 pandemic. Sunday, more than 93,000 people were hospitalized with the virus across the country. This comes as doctors and nurses in Kansas warn about a lack of space and staffing shortages. Eyewitness News reporter Caroline Elliott went into the COVID-19 unit at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center to get a first-hand look at the challenges hospitals are facing.

Monday was just another day on Main Street while down the street it’s a battleground at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.

“This was a good shift. We didn’t lose anybody. We didn’t code anybody,” said nurse Mary Jones inside the hospital’s COVID unit. “We had plenty of staff to be able to manage, so it was a good shift.”

Not every shift runs so smoothly. The longer the pandemic goes on, the more patients the Hutchinson hospital sees on its COVID-19 floor.

“We’ve got 12 patients. A couple of them have been here for 20-some days,” Jones said. “We’ve got one that’s on comfort care that’s actively dying. We have maybe two more that (we) are watching pretty close, anticipating that they’ll end up in (the) ICU with more care than what we can give them.”

Jones said she’s never seen anything like what’s happening at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center in her 10-year career.

“There are days that you go home and you’re not sure you’re gonna come back,” she said. “Days that you get here and find out that someone you were taking care of two days ago is gone.”

Jones said she is at the breaking point, losing more patients in the last couple of months than she has in the last decade.

The experience is the norm for first-year nurse Emily Bowman.

“We’ve had a lot of people who have passed away and it’s hard to see. And a lot of them, are, you know, aware, and they know that they’re not going to get out of here alive, and it’s you know, it’s hard,” she said. It’s very sad to see that was something that could possibly have been prevented.”

Still, some patients deny the virus even exists until it’s too late. Jace Bruce, who’s been in a room on the COVID-19 floor of Hutchinson’s hospital for about 20 days said he’s concerned that more people are going to die because they refuse to take precautions.

“I’m convinced that there are going to be so many people that are going to die because of what I call “political,” which shouldn’t even be part of the equation,” Bruce said.

The healthcare professionals at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center are concerned about what’s around the corner after the holidays.

“Just be mindful (that) your actions not only affect yourself but (they) affect so many more people than what people realize,” Bowman said. “And if people could see what we deal with up here and the sadness and seeing these people pass away who didn’t have to.”

The doctors and nurses say they vow to fight until a vaccine arrives.

“We’re here for the duration,” Jones said. “I’m just hoping we will get to the end eventually.”

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