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Science & Medicine

As Emergency Rooms Overflow, Hospital Officials Say Of Breaking Point: “We’re There”

IU Health Arnett.

Hospital officials from IU Health Arnett and Franciscan Health said Thursday both facilities have reached a breaking point. 

Emergency rooms have been full from a mixture of COVID-19, injuries, and unrelated illnesses for weeks. Hospitals are short-staffed and facing mounting employee burnout. 

In a call with reporters, IU Health Arnett’s Dr. Jim Bien said there may be a place for a mask mandate - but that’s up to county commissioners. 

“We have challenged them, asked them to think about how policy might complement the advice, and cajoling and recommendations and common sense we have been trying to encourage,” he said.

Bien urged the community - and commissioners - to do more. 

“The way through this is for everyone who can to get vaccinated,” he said. “Regionally our community is not doing enough to mitigate the suffering that is occurring and the health systems are as stretched as I’ve seen them. People are suffering unnecessarily. So much of this is preventable so what kind of public health policies might be implemented?”

Franciscan Health’s Dr. Dan Wickert said hospitals have also experienced strains in maintaining staff as the pandemic drags on. 

“We’ve had nurses say, ‘We can’t do this anymore. I’m at my limit, I need a break, or I need to do something else. I can’t be at the bedside anymore’,” he said.

Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said there is “no mandate on the horizon” when reached for comment.