Rutland hospitals overcrowded

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(Host) Hospitals nationwide are seeing an increase in patient loads for a variety of reasons. In Vermont, there are cases of overcrowding not just in the emergency rooms, but in entire hospitals.

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the rush of patients has been especially dramatic in Rutland.

(Keck) Rutland Regional Medical Center had so many patients waiting for beds in the emergency department last month that they re-opened an older, unused wing. Hospital spokesman Michael Dowdy says they’re patient numbers are up 5-10 percent over last year.

(Dowdy) “The past few weeks have been extremely busy even over this time last year, just due to upper respiratory illness as well the actual flu virus, but the patients that we’re seeing coming into our hospital, it’s not just the flu it’s a variety of illnesses.”

(Keck) And Dowdy says there are no signs of a slow down. With an ongoing shortage of nurses he says staffing becomes especially difficult. But he says their regular nurses have taken on extra shifts and temporary traveling nurses will help fill any gaps.

(Dowdy) “We’ve always done our staffing and our bed status based on trends, but the volumes we saw this past year, went against those trends. So we’re planning to keep those extra beds open and keep them staffed indefinitely.”

(Keck) Rutland is not alone. Hospitals nationwide have seen their patient loads increase. According to the American Hospital Association, the aging baby boomers are a big reason why.

But they point out that more and more Americans are uninsured and under insured adding to the load of hospital emergency departments. More virulent outbreaks of the flu as well as increasing public health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and asthma are also increasing the strain on hospitals in Vermont and elsewhere.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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