By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)– As Autumn transitions into Winter, COVID-19 case numbers are dropping nationally, but rising in Colorado. Those rising cases are taking a toll on Colorado hospitals.

(credit: CBS)

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“This is probably the biggest challenge our hospitals have faced in the modern era,” says Cara Welch is the Senior Director of Communications for The Colorado Hospital Association.

You may have heard stories recently of ambulances diverting to different hospitals because there are no more beds, or of elective procedures being canceled because hospitals need the staff. Those are actions hospitals can take when they get too busy to release some of the pressure. Cara says it happens all the time even before the pandemic.

Now hospitals are taking actions like these nearly every day. It’s not a sign of failure, but it is a sign that hospitals and their staff are stretched thin.

(File photo. Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Cara says beds are in short supply these days, but it’s not all COVID-19 cases. Hospitals are seeing everything from trauma to flu cases to patients with non-COVID-19 related illnesses being hospitalized because they put off care during the early part of the pandemic.

“Our COVID numbers are still lower than where we were last November and December when we had about 1,800 hospitalized COVID patients,” Cara says. “Right now, we are between 1,200 and 1,300, but we are seeing a lot of other patients presenting at our hospitals that are really starting to stress our capacity.”

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And while COVID-19 isn’t all to blame, she says treating COVID-19 patients is taking up a lot of resources.

“So, the area where the public can help us the most is bringing down the COVID hospitalizations.”

(credit: CBS)

She says the best way to do that is for everyone who can get vaccinated to do so. In the meantime, she says hospitals are busy but managing, and you should still go to a hospital when you need it.

“It sounds a little bit backwards when we are stretched as thin as we are right now but we still need Coloradans seeking care,” Cara says.

She also recommends having patience with healthcare workers because they are burned out, and many feel unappreciated and even attacked.

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“For many of us, we have been able to kind of move on. Our health care workers are very much in the throes of this,” she says.

Michael Abeyta