LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Hospitals may be packed, but intensive care units aren’t as much. This is a good sign, but the system remains strained in Lancaster County, across the Midstate, and all over the country.

“Across the country, we’re hearing about Omicron creating less severe cases or mild cases. While that may be true at a population level, we’re certainly not seeing it here in South Central Pennsylvania. We’re seeing our highest number of cases in the hospital overall,” said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Chief Medical Information Officer at Lancaster General Health.

It’s the highest number of patients at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health since the pandemic started–with more than 140 patients admitted for COVID-19 and about 50 recovered but not ready to go home.

“EMS teams are waiting to bring in patients to the hospital because we have a group of patients in the hospital that we can’t send to the next phase of care, either skilled nursing home facilities or rehab facilities,” Dr. Ripchinski said.

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This creates a real challenge both on the hospital floor and in the waiting rooms. Dr. Ripchinski says a lot of the people coming in are showing symptoms.

“They’re actually short of breath, have increased fatigue and many of them are requiring oxygen, over 90 percent at this time,” Dr. Ripchinski said.

Instead of ventilators and PPE, staff is what’s in short supply this time around.

“They’re overwhelmed,  a little heartbroken, and wish we were in a different situation. Some are frustrated and tired so we’re trying to balance the needs of all the patients,” Dr. Ripchinski added.

Dr. Ripchinski also says about half the people walking into the hospital doors are testing positive for COVID. 

He says at this point, the virus is spreading so rampantly that if you have covid symptoms, you probably have COVID itself–so get tested.