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COVID, care rationing, and consequences thereof

Hospitals in Idaho, Alaska, Alabama, Montana and other states are rationing care – a painful decision necessitated by unvaccinated patients suffering from severe COVID infections overwhelming available facilities.

In Idaho, the State Department of Health and Welfare now “allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive and make other dramatic changes to the way they treat patients.

  • In Kootenai Health’s ICU, one critical care nurse might be supervising up to six patients with the help of two other non-critical care nurses. The usual ratio is one ICU nurse for one ICU patient.
  • “nearly 92% of all of the COVID-19 patients in St. Luke’s hospitals were unvaccinated. Sixty-one of the hospital’s 78 ICU patients had COVID-19.”

A Montana hospital “was also forced to implement crisis standards of care amid a surge in COVID-19 patients” when all critical care beds were already occupied.

In Houston Texas, a military veteran died when no hospitals near him had space or staff to treat a sudden case of gallstone pancreatitis.

A 73 year old Alabama man died of a cardiac condition when the hospital in his hometown of Cullman, Ala., contacted 43 others in three states — and all were unable to give him the care he needed. Three weeks ago there were 60 more ICU patients than beds in ICUs.

There are many. many more examples.

This. Should. Never. Have. Happened.

And wouldn’t have if not for COVID deniers, anti-vaxxers, and the media channels that gave them a megaphone to spread their nonsense.

Getting anti-vaxxers to change their views is incredibly difficult; the media is replete with stories of COVID patients telling their doctors they don’t believe they have the virus (look them up).

Medical providers’s option is stark indeed – treat the patients with a self-inflicted disease, or send them home…and treat the heart attack, car crash, pancreatitis, stroke, burn, asthma attack and other patients.

It has come to this.

What does this mean for you?

With personal choice comes personal responsibility. 

4 thoughts on “COVID, care rationing, and consequences thereof”

  1. Hi Joe, “allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive“. If I’m more likely to survive if vaccinated does this mean vaccinated people could get preferred treatment over non-vaccinated?

    1. Thanks for the question Brent.

      It is a very good one, and troubling indeed. The “good” news is very few ICU beds have vaccinated occupants – almost all are the unvaxxed, so the medical folks will likely never have to answer that question.

      That said, medical staff are making those kind of decisions every day in some states, and that is just awful – mostly because it is so unnecessary.

      be well – Joe

  2. Hi Joe,

    I think you need to reconsider the position that “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” I would look at the data coming out of the UK and Israel. It appears the vaccines are failing. Out of 600,000 Delta Variant Cases over 7.5 months there were 2,542 deaths from Delta with 1,613 out of 2542 total deaths (63%) from fully vaccinated people (722 were unvaccinated). See pages 19 and 20. The link is here….

    Could it be that the vaccines are not effective for Delta? In my experience people are not antivaxxers, rather they are vaccine hesitant because the case hasn’t successfully been made to them or they have already had Covid and recovered.

    Best Regards,


    1. Hello Darrell – and happy October to you and yours.

      First, it’s always helpful to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Note that the unvaxxed vs vaxxed poplations were markedly different – the vaccinated population was MUCH older – as in 10x more of the vaccinated were over 50 compared to nonvaxxed. So, it appears you jumped to a conclusion without thinking thru the data.

      Notably, the death rate in the UK for those
      45 – 64 is 12x the risk of those under 45;
      64 – 75 is 100x, and
      75+ is 450x.

      So, you are comparing apples to…walnuts?

      There’s more.

      Before one jumps to any conclusions, let’s look at more reports.

      First, in the BMJ – “From 4 April to 20 June unvaccinated people died from covid-19 at 16.6 times the rate among the fully vaccinated (95% confidence interval 13.5 to 20.4). Between 20 June and 17 July that rate fell to 11.3 (9.1 to 13.9).” There are any number of potential reasons for this change; delta transmissibility, delta prevalence, decline in effectiveness of some vaccines (and thus need for boosters), change in demographics of the groups being vaccinated (older folks got shots earlier, rest of us had to wait…BUT, what is clear is that unvaxxed death rates were much higher than vaxxed.

      FROM the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly – vaxxed had reduced risk of dying 10x over unvaxxed. Note this was after Delta dominated…

      Secondary source – WSJ – interesting data all indicating rising deaths among unvaccinated.

      And, the most relevant-from KFF
      – states with the highest vaccination rates for older adults – Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Massachusetts – experienced comparatively low death rates among older adults during the Delta surge.
      – four of the five states with the lowest vaccination rate for older adults – Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and Nevada – death rates were higher than the national average.

      and there are many more out there showing vaccinated folks are much less likely to die than unvaxxed.

      So there’s one data analysis, from research that was focused on an entirely different issue (not death rates), with no detail or explanation re that data point, with very different populations for vaxxed and unvaxxed, vs many other studies from highly credible sources that show unvaccinated people are at much higher risk of dying than vaxxed people.

      So, no, vaccines are effective for Delta, and i don’t need to reconsider my position.

      You might want to evaluate the possibility that confirmation bias is influencing your views.

      be well Joe

Comments are closed.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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