The hospital on post at Fort Campbell has been full of COVID patients, and most are unvaccinated. That’s despite a mandate for all soldiers.
Active-duty soldiers in the U.S. Army have no choice about taking the COVID vaccine at this point, but they don’t have to be fully vaccinated until Dec. 15, according to plans outlined last week by the Department of Defense.
But Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell also serves the families of soldiers and local retirees. And health officials on post are becoming more emphatic about encouraging them to take the vaccine.
Maj. David Henley, the physician who leads inpatient care at BACH, says the hospital is seeing large numbers of patients under the age of 40.
“In fact I’ve had several in their 20s who are getting critically ill with COVID-19,” he says.
But, he adds, the hospital is just not set up to care for the sickest COVID patients, who often need a ventilator.
“We are having significantly, critically ill people who are requiring intubation and prolonged respiratory support,” he says in a video posted to Fort Campbell’s social media. “We do not have critical care physicians here.”
Hospital officials say just two patients who have required oxygen were vaccinated people with breakthrough cases.
Finding an open bed elsewhere has been difficult. Across Tennessee, COVID hospitalizations have dropped from their peak in the last week, but ICUs remain full. The closest civilian hospital, Tennova Clarksville, is also full, with 19 COVID patients on ventilators.
One man had to be flown to the East Coast to get higher level care.