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Indiana reports less than 10% of ICU beds available

As COVID-19 cases rise, it’s getting harder to get an ICU bed.

INDIANAPOLIS — As COVID-19 cases increase, it’s getting harder to get an intensive care unit bed. 

On Wednesday, Indiana reported less than 10% of ICU beds were available.

Right now, there are about 186 staffed beds, down from the 260 the state reported on Tuesday.

Micah Pollak, an associate professor of economics at IU Northwest, has been tracking the data during the pandemic.

“It doesn't matter how you feel about COVID — we have a health care crisis going on in Indiana right now,” he said. “If you get in a car accident, if you have a heart attack, if you fall down and break your arm, it's very likely you won't be able to get into a hospital bed anytime soon. And that affects all of us." 

Dr. Tyler Stepsis at Eskenazi Health said they still have several beds, but health care workers are feeling the strain.

“An overflowing emergency department and an overflowing waiting room right now,” he said. 

Eskenazi Health reported 71 coronavirus patients Wednesday afternoon. Thirty occupied ICU beds, the rest were taken care of by other departments, including the emergency department. 

"We are very good at creating the extra ICU beds that's needed, the extra teams that are needed,” Stepsis said.

Resources are stretched, but there are ventilators. Tuesday afternoon, the state still had more than 60% available. Most were used by non-COVID patients. Eskenazi had 99, but just having the ventilator isn’t enough.

"It's never a bad thing to have extra equipment,” Stepsis said. “The problem is having the staff that can run the equipment."    

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Stepsis told 13 Investigates that 95 team members were quarantined Wednesday. He hopes that number doesn't increase, putting more pressure on an already stressed system. To manage, Eskenazi stopped certain procedures.

With a more transmissible variant in circulation, Stepsis urges the public to wear a mask. Instead of coming to the hospital for a COVID test, try to test at home. He also wants more people to get vaccinated.

RELATED: Holcomb, health officials give update as state battles surge in COVID-19

“In the end, it's not so much that we're trying to keep you from getting sick completely, but we're trying to keep you out of the hospital so that people who need the resources can get the resources," he said.

The state reports 54.6% of 6.3 million Hoosiers are fully vaccinated.

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