‘I cry all the time’: non-covid patients despair over delayed care

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Due to her condition, she chokes easily and has difficulty breathing. “I just cry all the time because of my situation,” she said.

The physical discomfort is compounded by her frustration that so many people in her state are not vaccinated against Covid, and that they are getting sick and taking up hospital beds.

According to the latest data from federal and state health officials, only 66 percent of adults in Georgia have received at least one vaccine dose, compared with 77 percent of all adults in the United States who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“They punish people like me,” Ms Strong said.

In some areas, doctors explicitly ration care. On Thursday, Idaho state officials expanded “crisis standards of care” statewide, a standard limited to the northern part of the state earlier in the month. “We don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you’re there for Covid-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” Dave Jeppesen, the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said in a statement.

With the scarcity of intensive care beds available, Idaho hospitals had largely stopped providing hernia surgeries or hip replacements before the new order. Now they are also delaying cancer and heart surgery, said Brian Whitlock, the director of the Idaho Hospital Association. The hospitals there “have done their best,” he said.

In Alaska, the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, has also begun rationing care as patients wait hours to get to the emergency room and doctors rush to find beds. “While we are doing our very best, we are no longer able to provide standard care to every patient who needs our help,” the hospital’s medical staff said in a letter to the community in mid-September.

When the pandemic first hit hospitals last year, many institutions found no alternative to delaying non-essential procedures. “We weren’t sure what we were going to face,” says Dr. Matthias Merkel, senior associate chief medical officer for capacity management and patient flow at Oregon Health & Science University, the state academic medical center in Portland. “We’ve halted preventive surgeries and emptied the hospitals.”

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