OPINION: No, our hospitals are not overcrowded with COVID patients

St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford is a Southcoast Health facility.

Recently, a CEO who was arrested for domestic abuse said that his hospital chain was getting crowded out by COVID patients. I’m not going to pick on the guy for his personal battles, but because he is part of an institutional, public health narrative that has driven most of us crazy over the last 18 months, I will pick on his wrong-headedness.

It’s easy to do so. His hospital is not overrun with COVID patients. No hospital near us is overwhelmed.

As of Oct. 29, Southcoast Health’s 518 inpatient beds had 23 of them filled with COVID patients, according to Health and Human Services. Their intensive care unit has 47 totally staffed beds, of which only eight had COVID patients. We can assume they’re all over 50. Some of them will undoubtedly be vaccinated.

You won’t get this information from said person’s hospital group though. I have tried three times via email and two times by phone to no avail. They don’t want to tell you. Why? One reason, I guess, is that it is good financial grift to tell the Federal government that your hospital is overrun with COVID. You simply get paid more for it than a hospital overrun with broken arms and heart attacks.

The Vibra hospital chain has just 90 beds and only about 60 of them were being used as of Oct. 29, which is not a money maker for them. Think of it like the restaurant business: if you have 100 tables and only 70 of them are full on a weekend, you are either at break-even, or you are thinking of laying off wait staff.

No one is in Vibra inpatient or ICU with COVID-19, according to HHS data. Not an unvaccinated baby, not an unvaccinated 15-year-old from Voc-Tec, not a vaccinated 50-year-old cellist from the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. No one.

Over at Fall River’s biggest hospital, Saint Anne’s, there are 12 ICU beds and 7 are occupied, based on HHS official data. Guess how many are COVID? If you said zero, you won a free ticket to a Zeiterion show where you have to show proof of vaccine and wear a mask. (Yeah me!)

Leaders like the Southcoast Health CEO should know better. I haven’t lost friends to COVID, but I’ve lost friends to COVID insanity. That’s because our public health officials have failed us, locally and nationally, like cowards hiding in the night while we are threatened with job losses, and subject to booster after booster.

Our hospitals are not facing a COVID crisis. Neither is New Bedford. Our public health departments, however…those guys definitely are.

Kenneth Rapoza covered China for nine years as a senior writer at Forbes magazine ending in 2020 and is a former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Brazil. He lives in Westport.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: OPINION: No, our hospitals are not overcrowded with COVID patients