A doctor in Middle Tennessee began his message with a stark and simple warning.
“No beds. There are no beds.”
Dr. Geoff Lifferth, Chief Medical Officer at Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin, Tennessee, detailed the overwhelming impact of the Delta variant on the state’s healthcare facilities in a Facebook post, which was shared on the official hospital account Thursday night.
“In Middle Tennessee right now it is impossible to find an empty, staffed ICU, ER, or med/surg bed. As an ER doc and a healthcare administrator, this past week has been one of the most exhausting and disheartening of my career,” Lifferth wrote.
Tennessee is in the midst of a new crisis because of the more transmissable Delta variant, with vaccination rates lagging and heated debates over mask mandates playing out elsewhere in the state. Hospitals are increasingly reaching capacity as only 7% of the state’s ICU beds are available, according to the Tennessee Department of Health on Thursday.
In Memphis, a surge in cases has overwhelmed its emergency services, with officials asking residents to avoid using 911 services unless absolutely necessary.
“The delta variant has burned through us with a ferocity that’s hard to describe,” Lifferth wrote. “6 weeks ago there were 200 Covid patients in hospitals in Tennessee. Today there are 2000. A 1000% increase. In 6 weeks. It has overwhelmed tired doctors, nurses and healthcare systems that were already stretched thin.”
Just 35% of residents in Sumner County are fully vaccinated compared with 40% statewide, according to state health data. Nationwide, 50.4% are fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The vaccines? They’re good,” Lifferth wrote. “No, they’re not perfect. And yes, we are seeing more breakthrough infections with the Delta variant. But there’s a reason 96% of physicians got it — the risk/benefit analysis overwhelmingly favors the vaccines. Get one.”
SRMC has a total of 182 inpatient beds, according to information last reported to the US Department of Health and Human Services at the end of July.
More than 1,000 employees and 300 physicians work at the hospital, located about 30 miles northeast of Nashville, according to the facility’s website.
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