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Indiana father had to fight for his life and an ICU bed despite not having COVID

Peter was hospitalized with pneumonia and sepsis last week. He may not have had COVID, but he still had to wait in line for an ICU bed.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — An Indiana woman has personally experienced how rising hospitalizations are not only affecting those with COVID-19, but also those without it who are equally in desperate need of care and an intensive care unit bed

“There are more people who need beds than there are beds to provide,” said Katie Vienneau, talking about hospital capacity amid this latest surge in COVID cases in Indiana. 

Vienneau has seen it firsthand. She recently confronted this harsh reality when her ex-husband, Peter, the father of the two children the couple shares, had to be hospitalized with pneumonia and sepsis last week. It was not because of COVID. Vienneau said Peter, who’s 39, got the vaccine last spring. 

“He couldn’t tell how sick he was,” Vienneau said as she recalled how bad her ex-husband seemed to be feeling last Monday.

But the doctors at IU Health Saxony Hospital knew. That’s where Peter spent several days in the ICU before doctors decided he needed more critical care in the ICU at Methodist Hospital. 

Credit: Kate Vienneau

Except, Vienneau said, doctors told her Peter had to wait because there wasn’t an ICU bed available. 

“They were very forthcoming about the situation,” she said. “They were balancing the critical nature of his needs amongst all of the other critical nature, criticality of patients across the system."

Unfortunately, Peter’s story isn’t unique. 

According to data from the Indiana Department of Health, ICU beds are in short supply, with only 8.9% of the state’s 2,041 ICU beds available.

Hospitals have waiting lists, which health officials say is a direct result of COVID patients being hospitalized, most of whom they say are unvaccinated.

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“Those resources are getting vacuumed up into the great Hoover of the pandemic right now,” said Vienneau, adding that waiting for a bed to open for Peter, knowing how sick he was, wasn’t easy.   

“There are times that you feel like you’re going to go crazy because it’s just a waiting game,” said Vienneau.

She explained that this past Monday, Peter was flown to Methodist Hospital where he remains on a ventilator, fighting for his life. 

“If they had not done the very advanced calculus to decide, 'Who do we move to Methodist next?' And decided Peter was the outcome of that equation, we would not be here today. We would not have that fighting chance,” Vienneau said.