Lincoln doctor: ‘People are dying unnecessarily’ from COVID-19 | Health and Fitness

“Our local hospital capacity remains a serious concern,” she said.

One of the issues with COVID-19 patients is that they often need a level of care that’s not available in smaller hospitals, so they must be transferred to larger hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha.

Hospitals can’t refuse a transfer if they have a bed open, which means even when local conditions improve, like they have recently, hospitals in Lincoln remain full because they are taking more out-of-county transfer patients.

And those patients often are sicker. For example, on Thursday, there were significantly fewer out-of-county patients — 39 — in Lincoln hospitals, than there were local patients — 57. But 13 of those out-of-county patients were on ventilators, compared with only four local patients.

“When the patients come in from an outside hospital, they are definitely more acute,” Maslonka said.

He said it’s often a combination of factors. The patients may have had to stay at a hospital in a rural area too long because there isn’t a transfer bed available, which means they are quite ill by the time they get to Lincoln. 

Lincoln tops 300 COVID-19 deaths

Maslonka said another problem with some patients, especially ones from rural areas where vaccination rates are low and fewer people are taking precautions, is that they don’t believe that they are that sick, and they sometimes refuse therapies that could help them in the early stages of the disease, such as antiviral medicines or monoclonal antibody injections.

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