For the fifth consecutive week, The Medical Center at Bowling Green and Glasgow’s T.J. Samson Community Hospital reported increases in COVID-19 patients while battling capacity restraints.

Med Center Health Executive Vice President Wade Stone said Friday that The Medical Center is still at capacity and every available bed is full. Stone said there are now 79 COVID-19 patients at the hospital, and 71% are unvaccinated. Sixteen of those patients are in critical care and 88% of them are unvaccinated. He said there are now 10 patients on ventilators.

“Our staff are extremely focused and dedicated to taking care of patients and making it through this most recent surge,” Stone said. “We are pleased to report that we continue to bring on new staff to Med Center Health. We are grateful for that. We are committed to caring for this community, and we just ask again for those folks who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated. That’s the key to beating this pandemic.”

He said that throughout Med Center Health’s system there are 87 COVID-19 patients, and 91,539 doses of vaccine had been administered as of Friday morning.

T.J. Regional Executive Vice President of Marketing Stacey Biggs said Glasgow’s hospital now has a record 46 inpatients with the virus after hitting a record-high 26.9% positivity rate. Each age group, including the 0-18 category, has someone hospitalized there with COVID-19. Of the 46 patients, only 10 are fully vaccinated. Nine patients are in the ICU and none of those are vaccinated.

“I was just looking back at our numbers from the last few weeks, and a month ago today we had 22 patients,” Biggs said. That’s a 109% increase just in one month. That’s a big difference in the span of one month. Today in our surge update, our staff bed capacity is over 100%, and critical care capacity is at 170%. That means we have expanded our capacity as much as possible.”

She said T.J. Samson has all private rooms, and officials there had “no choice” but to bunk some patients together in order to effectively combat the surge and care for the community.

“Now, more than one in every four tests taken here are coming back positive,” Biggs said. “It’s tough. It’s really putting a strain on things. To continue to stretch the staff so thin – it’s just not sustainable in the long term.”

TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital did not respond last week when asked for capacity information. However, for the past two weeks, Marketing Manager Michael Ferguson has passed along the following comment on behalf of the private hospital: “TriStar Greenview has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients in the past few weeks, similar to what other hospitals are seeing in southcentral Kentucky. This increase causes intensive care units to reach capacity at certain times. On a regular basis, there is a continual flow of patients admitted and discharged from the ICU. When nearing capacity, we make every effort to expand additional step-down and medical bed areas.

“Our hospital leaders are continually monitoring the situation closely and continue to plan by assessing resources and support to help meet the needs of our community. The vast majority of COVID-19 patients being treated in our hospitals are unvaccinated. We strongly encourage people in our area to get the vaccine and follow the CDC’s recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus.”

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday the National Guard would now assist both T.J. Samson and Greenview in non-clinical support capacities. More than 300 additional National Guard members will be deployed to 21 strained hospitals across the state.

The governor said it is the largest deployment of the guard for a health crisis in the state’s history.

“We’ve asked a lot of these heroes, but every time we’ve asked, they’ve stepped up and served us proudly,” Beshear said in a statement.

Stone said the National Guard will continue to assist The Medical Center at Bowling Green for an additional two weeks.

Biggs said T.J. Samson officials “absolutely welcome” the additional support during this time.

The latest update from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services on Friday shows that all but two counties in the state – Morgan and Clinton – are marked red for having a “critical” COVID-19 incidence rate.

Of the 10 counties in the Barren River region, five had a vaccination rate of at least 40%: Warren, Simpson, Logan, Barren and Butler. None of the region’s counties has a vaccination rate of at least 50%.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.