By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – As hospitalizations continue to climb, and the availability of intensive care unit beds begins to dwindle, Colorado’s hospitals are once again adapting to meet the needs of the state. More than 900 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 80% of them not fully vaccinated.

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“The burden of the unvaccinated on our hospitals is profound. And it impacts all Coloradans because those who are vaccinated will struggle to get the same level of care in the hospital,” said Scott Bookman, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Incident Commander for COVID-19.

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The state has less than 200 ICU beds available as of Friday, but not all of them are being used by COVID patients.

“Many of the people who are in our intensive care units in Colorado hospitals right now are there for other reasons,” said Julie Lonborg a Senior Vice President for the Colorado Hospital Association. “We’re also seeing patients that put off care, perhaps at a chronic condition. And that has meant that they are now sicker than they would have been otherwise, they now need an ICU stay, maybe a heart attack or a stroke.”

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The pressure on the health care system is stressing its workers and causing concern among hospital officials.

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“Our staffing resources are actually more of a concern today than they had been eight or nine months ago. So many are tired, they’re burned out or taking a break,” Lonborg said.

Some health care workers have left the state to address the Delta variant surge in other parts of the country. The remaining staff is getting stretched thin.

“Those resources have been pressure tested more now than they had been before. And we continue to flex them to work through those issues as hospitals do every day,” Lonborg said.

Meals, thank you signs, and nightly howls of appreciation have waned. Health care workers don’t feel as appreciated anymore.

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“There is something that people can do. And that’s to take the vaccine,” Lonborg said. “Wash your hands, wear masks, watch your distance. And of course, take the vaccine if you’re eligible.”

Jeff Todd