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DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Hospitals across the Chicago region are postponing elective surgeries in the midst of one of the worse surges of the pandemic.

The postponement comes as Illinois currently deals with an influx of COVID-19 patients in hospitals than ever before. With almost 6,300 COVID-stricken patients occupying beds across the state, doctors from various healthcare groups announced Monday that the vast majority of hospitalized individuals are unvaccinated.

“The situation is growing more challenging by the day,” Mary Beth Kingston, Chief Nursing Officer for Advocate Aurora Health, said. “Ninety-two percent of our inpatients are either unvaccinated, have only received the first dose of the vaccine, or are due for a booster.”

Regarding the 8% of fully vaccinated inpatients, WGN News has learned that most had underlying medical conditions.

Across Advocate Auroras Health’s 26 hospitals, the number of COVID-19 patients has doubled within 30 days and quadrupled in the last 60 days.

“Beds are very tight. Wait times are long, and really, significantly, our team members are under, I think, a lot of stress right now,” Kingston said.

Jim Skogsbergh, Advocate Auroras Health’s CEO, adds that much of the stress is ‘preventable,’ pleading with those who choose to remain unvaccinated to get the shot.

“This trend is something all hospitals are seeing all over the country,” Skogsbergh said. “Vaccines and boosters are key to reducing hospitalizations and death from COVID. We can’t stop COVID without you.”

Numbers statewide show 6,294 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across Illinois – the highest of the pandemic. It’s why doctors are choosing to delay elective surgeries.

“We are postponing or delaying, not canceling, but rescheduling certain procedures to times when there is appropriate staffing to do the procedures safely,” said Dr. Jeff Bahr with Advocate Aurora Health. Cancer treatments and life-saving procedures will continue.

The temporary change, doctors feel, will help keep a system afloat as it deals with exhausted healthcare workers and a national staffing shortage.

Said Behr: “Our healthcare facilities are so overwhelmed.”