Boone County hospital beds fill with COVID patients


Boone County Health Officer Dr. Herschell Servies said the COVID-19 pandemic concerns him more now than it did a year ago, primarily because Witham Health Service’s beds are filling with COVID-19 patients and local case numbers are again approaching record highs.

During a Dec. 6 Boone County Commissioners meeting, Servies told the commissioners, “We are in a lot of trouble from a public health standpoint.”

As of Dec. 7, Witham’s ICU bed capacity was at approximately 80 percent, according to Witham Director of Infection Control and Prevention/Quality Improvement Gene Davis.

“We have 56 (percent) of our ICU beds in use with COVID related patients,” Davis stated in an email. “COVID is definitely impacting both our ICU and our non-ICU beds.”

Servies said Witham is on ambulance diversion. On the morning of Dec. 6, he said two COVID-19-positive patients were being held in the hospital’s ER, waiting for beds.

“Ambulance diversion means if paramedics or EMTs pick up a person who is stable, we ask them not to bring them to Witham,” Servies said. “The problem is everyone else is on diversion.”

Servies said IU Health North Hospital in Carmel, Riverview Health in Noblesville, Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis and many other local hospitals were on ambulance diversion as of Dec. 6.

The Boone County Health Dept. reported 247 new positive COVID-19 cases for the week that ended Dec. 3, the highest increase in the county since early January and a 10-fold increase from July. The department reported a record 557 new cases during the reporting week ending Jan. 8 of this year.

Servies said there has been a shortage of supplies, such as face masks, ventilators and vaccines, throughout different points of the pandemic. Now, he said rapid tests are in short supply. Because of national supply issues, the BCHD will no longer offer rapid COVID-19 testing. The Indiana State Dept. of Health is trying to find other sources for rapid COVID-19 tests, according to BCHD Public Health Educator Claire Haughton. The BCHD now offers PCR testing with results expected between 24 and 48 hours.