‘ICU is becoming overwhelmed’ says Kelowna hospital emergency doctor

Click to play video: 'Fourth wave of pandemic takes toll on Kelowna’s Hospital' Fourth wave of pandemic takes toll on Kelowna’s Hospital
Fourth wave of pandemic takes toll on Kelowna’s Hospital – Aug 18, 2021

It’s being called the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And in the Central Okanagan, it’s proving to be the most challenging at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH).

“Much worse than the first three waves, at least for us here in Kelowna,” said Dr. Jeff Eppler, an emergency doctor at KGH.

Eppler told Global News the hospital is seeing far more COVID patients being hospitalized, including being admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“The ICU is becoming overwhelmed,” he said. “Well over half the patients in ICU are COVID patients.”

Read more: B.C. officials announce Central Okanagan restrictions following COVID-19 surge in Interior Health

Eppler said the 4th wave is bringing in a lot more younger patients between 20 and 50 years old and most of them, he said, have not been vaccinated.

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“I’ve seen nothing but unvaccinated people,” he told Global News. “I’ve only seen one vaccinated person who had COVID, an elderly gentleman who was sick and did quite well and probably did much better because he’s vaccinated, but all of the patients that I’ve seen, almost all of the patients my colleagues are seeing are all unvaccinated people.”

According to Eppler, the hospitalizations are impacting services as time and space is being utilized to treat COVID patients.

“It’s actually having a huge, huge impact on staff and resources,” Eppler said. “It’s actually affecting people who don’t have COVID because we just don’t have the resources to go around anymore.”

The dire situation has led to dozens of surgeries and daycare procedures being postponed.

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“Simply because more beds are being occupied by COVID patients and that means there are fewer beds for surgical patients,” Eppler said.

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Last week, B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix confirmed that at least 50 surgeries had to be postponed due to the dire situation.

Global News reached out to both the Interior Health Authority (IHA) and the Ministry of Health for updated information on the surgery situation but did not receive any information by publication time.

Read more: B.C. on track for record new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations by September: scientists

Eppler is urging everyone to get vaccinated saying the benefits far outweigh the harm from COVID.

“Yes there could be some minor adverse effects of the vaccine but nothing compared to the negative effects you can get if you get a COVID infection or if you pass a COVID infection on to a loved one,” he said. “A lot of people are trivializing what’s happening and it’s really hard. It’s hard when people reject this really effective thing we have, vaccination.”

Eppler said the burnout among doctors, nurses and other medical staff is high and he’s hoping to put the pandemic to rest once and for all.

“This could all be over with right now,” he said. ” We could all open things up. I want to go to concerts again. I want to go shopping without wearing a mask. This does not need to be happening. A simple intervention would really prevent this.”

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