“I’m worried with these additional gatherings and additional spread, every system, every health system is going to be taxed with the amount of care they can provide."By Lindsay Ward

BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) – Intensive care units at both Butler Memorial Hospital and Clarion Hospital have reached maximum capacity.

This is no situation any hospital wants to be in during this pandemic, but because we’re seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, the two hospitals are having to make adjustments.

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In a news release Wednesday, Butler Health System says they have now activated phase one of their “Surge Plan.”

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Making room to add more intensive care unit beds and rearranging nurses’ schedules to accommodate the increase in patients is just another reminder of how serious this virus is.

“We knew this was coming eventually, we had a lull in the summer, but now those plans that we made are being realized, being put into place and being put into action,” said Dr. David Rottinghaus, Emergency Physician and Chief Medical Officer at Butler Memorial.

Rottinghaus says as of Thursday morning, they have 40 inpatients, with 15% to 20% of them in the ICU. They had to convert their Anesthesia Care Unit into a critical care unit, which is providing 15 additional beds.

“We’re seeing a wide age range of adults that are getting very sick with this,” said Rottinghaus.

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To make even more room for more beds, they’re suspending non-emergency, elective surgeries and procedures that require an inpatient stay. Outpatient procedures that don’t require hospitalizations will continue.

They’ve also called on nurses from various areas of the organization to be temporarily reassigned to areas with the greatest need.

Both hospitals currently have dozens of COVID-19 patients.

Butler Health System is asking the community to do their part to prevent the spread and to keep healthcare workers safe. That includes wearing a mask, avoid social gatherings, and stay home if you’re sick.

As of right now, they’re managing the increase of COVID patients with the staff they currently have, but there’s concern they may have to bring more in if cases continue to rise, especially with the holidays upon us.

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“I’m worried with these additional gatherings and additional spread, every system, every health system is going to be taxed with the amount of care they can provide,” said Rottinghaus.