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Dr. Jeff Ripperda
By:  Dr. Jeff Ripperda
Healthcare situation in Southern Illinois – blech.
Here are several snippets of info from the past week:
as of the middle of last week, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale had four patients on life support who should be in an ICU who were placed elsewhere in the hospital because the ICU is full. If you’re non-medical, this might not sound like a big deal, but having a patient on life support requires specialized space and specialized equipment. ICU’s are designed for this space and equipment. Other parts of the hospital aren’t. Our ICU’s are overflowing.
an EMT friend of mine spent one full day late last week transferring a patient from an SIH hospital to a hospital in Peoria. That was the closest available ICU bed and even finding a bed there took a bit of luck.
-SIH is mandating that anyone with a professional license work a few shifts in direct patient care over the next few weeks. SIH is a big organization. There are multiple RN’s, pharmacists, doctors, respiratory therapists, etc. who have jobs that don’t require them to provide direct patient care; they might arrange scheduling, licensing, credentialing, or other administrative tasks that don’t require directly caring for patients. Those people are going to be required to work in direct care for a little while at least. Again, these people are no slouches, but they’re being asked to work outside of their areas of comfort/expertise for a time to help ease the load.
-pulmonologists, the physicians who usually run ventilators, are overwhelmed right now. Some physicians who aren’t pulmonologists are being asked to manage patients on ventilators. Those other physicians are no slouches, but they’ll be working outside their usual specialty area to help out.
-2 vaccinated patients with COVID died at SIH hospitals last week, bringing the total number of vaccinated patients who have died of COVID to 4. Meanwhile, over the past 4 weeks, on average, there is 1 unvaccinated person dying of COVID every other day at an SIH hospital. At SIH hospitals, 4 vaccinated people have died over the entire course of the pandemic. That’s an average 8 day stretch for unvaccinated deaths.
-on Friday, August 27, there were 20 COVID patients on life support at SIH hospitals. 2 of those were vaccinated.
-I’m struggling to get my own patients scheduled with specialists. Biopsies, hip replacements, knee replacements, bladder procedures, lung testing, stress testing, etc. are all scheduling at least 2 months out and are likely to be pushed back further. There are very limited elective surgeries happening currently.
-I have two patients who need to be in a nursing home. The local nursing homes I usually refer to weren’t accepting admissions last week. The families of those two people are struggling; that’s hard to watch.
I ask only this: if you seek healthcare locally in Southern Illinois, please be a patient patient with your provider. If you’re frustrated at waiting for a test or a referral, I promise you that we are frustrated, too. Our ability to provide efficient, timely care is significantly compromised currently because there are more sick people locally than our health system was designed to care for. I hate not being able to do my job as well I can usually, but that’s the reality of the moment.
I welcome any additions or corrections to the information above. The numbers change by the hour, so staying up to date can be tricky. I don’t welcome anything questioning whether I’m exaggerating or whether it really is that bad – I’m not and it is.


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