Indiana in general and west central Indiana in particular, to date have not become COVID-19 hot spots.

On Thursday morning, the Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday did report one death in nearby Putnam County had been attributed to COVID-19.

The number of confirmed cases remained the same in Vigo County (3) and Sullivan County (1). No cases had been reported in Vermillion, Parke or Clay counties.

The Putnam County Health Department issued a news release saying the adult from Putnam County passed away Wednesday morning. That person, who was over age 60, had been had been hospitalized as COVID-19 patient and suffered from underlying medical conditions, the department said.

As of Thursday morning, ISDH said, 645 Hoosiers had been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories. Seventeen Hoosiers have died. A total of 4,651 tests have been reported to ISDH as of Thursday morning.

The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at coronavirus.in.gov, which will be updated daily at 10 a.m. Cases are listed by county of residence. Private lab reporting may be delayed and will be reflected in the map and count when results are received at ISDH.

Local hospital capacities

What are hospital capacities like in Vigo County?

Union Hospital in Terre Haute is licensed for 257 beds total, said Barry Nicoson, the hospital’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

Nicoson said Union in Terre Haute has 28 intensive care unit beds, but can flex up to 36 ICU beds if needed. Union has ventilators for each of the 28 ICU beds, but some ventilators can be used for two patients to add capacity.

Other than the flex beds, it is generally not possible to convert non-ICU beds to ICU beds because of the specialized equipment needs, he added.

Terre Haute Regional Hospital has 278 beds, according to its website. It has a 16-bed medical/surgical ICU, according to a recently posted employment ad.

Regional this week declined to address questions about specific numbers when it came to its capacities or capabilities, and it instead sent out a statement. Among other things, that statement said:

“Terre Haute Regional Hospital has well-established protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and our emergency planning efforts related to COVID-19 started weeks ago. We are working in partnership with local and state health departments and the CDC, and continue to monitor the situation closely.

“While we have the bed capacity, staffing, and supplies and equipment we need at this time, we continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve:

“To ensure we are prepared for an influx of patients, we have staffing contingency plans, and those include the use of HCA Healthcare’s in-house staffing agency.

“To help ensure our caregivers and patients continue to have enough supplies and equipment, we are asking staff to conserve personal protective equipment by following, but not exceeding, the guidelines for infection prevention. In addition, HCA Healthcare is working to identify other sources of important supplies and equipment to help ensure the continued protection of our colleagues and patients.

“We have the ability to add bed capacity to certain areas of our hospital, if needed, and we are reviewing best practices of other HCA Healthcare hospitals.”

Neither Union Hospital nor Regional Hospital would discuss daily census numbers on Thursday.

Statewide readiness

On Wednesday, Indiana health officials declined to provide details on hospital capacity around the state as its number of confirmed coronavirus-related illnesses continued to grow.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, cited confidentiality arrangements with hospitals for not releasing details about intensive care unit capacity and equipment availability around the state. She said she’s seeing “positive movements” in availability of ICU beds and ventilators.

“Because everybody is stepping up to the plate and trying to pretty much double their ICU capacity, I’m seeing those numbers increase as we go along,” Box said.

Box said the state health department received several truckloads of medical worker protection items such as masks, face shields and gowns this week and was distributing it to hospitals and county health officials.

When asked whether the state had a two-week supply of such items available, Box replied: “We are better off than that, I can guarantee you. I’ve got many hospitals and local health departments that haven’t even yet asked for their allotment.”

Mark Fitton is the Tribune-Star’s content editor. Contact him at mark.fitton@tribstar.com or 812-231-4333.

The Associated Press, reporting from Indianapolis, also contributed to this report. 

Recommended for you