COVID-19 forces dozens to fight for survival in local ICU’s


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The coronavirus continues to cast a shadow over Kern County. While local case numbers and hospitalization rates are gradually declining, intensive care units are struggling to treat a flood of COVID patients who are fighting for their very lives. State data says 72 people are grappling with life-threatening sickness in Kern’s intensive care units … leaving just 19 ICU beds in the county. Some local hospitals say they don’t have enough nurses to treat all the Kern residents landing in the hospital with the coronavirus.

“In the Central Valley and in Bakersfield we’re short on nurses,” said Bruce Peters, President and CEO of Mercy Hospital Bakersfield. “We still have our help from the national guard and the state traveling agencies for help with staffing.”

“How many nurses from the state and national guard are helping out in local hospitals?” asked 17’s Moses Small.

“We have over 109 contracted medical workers,” said Brynn Carrigan, Director of the Kern County Public Health Dept. “We have three national guard teams with 32 staff members helping out.”

The influx of COVID patients makes it harder for hospitals to treat everyone else.

“We’re seeing hospitalizations for other illnesses at a level that’s higher than we saw in the previous two surges,” said Carrigan. “We were under a stay-at-home order for a year or so. And a lot of people put off preventative care during that time.”

Health experts say getting vaccinated is the best way to stay safe … and save hospital beds for other patients who need them.”

People in the hospitals, people coming in this surge are mostly unvaccinated,” said Dr. Hemmal Kothary, Chief Medical Officer for Dignity Health Central California Division. “People ending up in the ICUs are unvaccinated.”

If you want to make an appointment to get your shot, visit the state’s website.

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