COVID-19 hospitalizations reach all-time high

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:16 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Get vaccinated. That’s the cry of local doctors as UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital houses its highest number of COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We only know one thing which is effective against this virus, which is a vaccine. Prevention is better than a cure,” says Dr. Tabassum Nafsi, Intensive Care Physician for UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital.

According to experts, waiting to catch the virus instead of getting the shot, is more dangerous than people think.

“The medications that have been designed and approved to treat COVID have actually been invented no earlier than the vaccine, right? So, if people are worried about the vaccine but are coming to the hospital to receive treatment, the medications are just as new,” explains Trauma Medical Doctor and Surgeon in Chief Dr. James Cole.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mike Polizzotto adds, “We can reduce the percentage that are more severe by having a lot of people vaccinated in the same way we reduce the percentage of fatal auto accidents by having everyone wear seatbelts when they’re driving in a car.”

Doctors say their patience is running thin, as those who are ill are sicker than before and that’s added stress on the staff.

“It’s frustrating and it’s emotionally exhausting,” says Nafsi. “I’ve been working for 14 years, I can tell you that nothing has been this emotionally exhausting for all of us as this pandemic has been. So, there’s a physical nature to it, but there’s an emotional nature to it as well.  And you have patients, like I said, younger than yourself who have children younger than your children, and I’m pronouncing them dead. It’s very hard to make those phone calls.”

“More people have died from COVID-19 in twelve months than have died from influenza in twelve years, so that says something right there,” adds Cole.

Of the more than 100 patients in SwedishAmerican’s care, 90% are unvaccinated. 23 are in the ICU on ventilators. It’s not just UW SwedishAmerican seeing this influx. Today, Freeport Health Network announced new visitor restrictions for COVID-19 patients in lieu of an increase.

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