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'It's going to be a long, long winter': Colorado physician weighs in on ICU bed capacity

Doctor: variety of factors contribute to influx
Hospital hallway
Posted at 10:33 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 01:06:14-04

DENVER — Following a warning from Colorado's top health officials on ICU bed capacity, doctors working on the front line say they're worried for what's to come.

"It's going to be a long, long winter" said Dr. Comilla Sasson, an emergency medicine physician based in Denver. "It's really hard now, and we're starting to get to the point where... when there's no room upstairs, they [patients] start having to board in the emergency department."

On Thursday, Colorado's top health officials announced that 90% of the state's ICU beds are in use, the highest share of beds used in 11 months.

Sasson said the influx of ICU patients is not only due to COVID-19 but also other respiratory illnesses. She added that other patients are being admitted for issues pertaining to delayed care.

"That means that they're often times maybe a little bit behind on their diabetic medications or their high blood pressure medications. So, what you start to see is this cascading effect of people who start to just get sicker because they haven't been doing the care that we normally can do," she said.

Gov. Jared Polis and others leading the state's COVID-19 recovery efforts stressed boosters would be a key solution to alleviating strained hospitals.

"So, you're going to see a major push from us on boosters, on first and second doses and on [vaccinating] 5 to 17 year olds," Polis said during Thursday's press briefing.

Late Thursday evening, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson received final CDC approval for their vaccine boosters. Pfizer booster shots have been approved since September.