Providence hospital over-capacity due to COVID
How hospitals are dealing with the mass of delta patients
EVERETT — Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, like all hospitals, is grappling with the pressure of higher volumes of hospitalizations caused by the delta variant of COVID-19.
The hospital on Colby has 48 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, but stretched to create more while operating at over-capacity.
In August, Providence stood up 18 satellite ICU rooms inside the hospital to manage more critical-care patients. As of Friday, Sept. 24, it was down to running two satellite ICU rooms, Providence Northwest Washington CEO Darren Redick said.
As of Thursday, Sept. 23, COVID-19 patients took up 13 of the hospital’s 50 ICU beds with eight on mechanical ventilators, a Providence spokesman said.
People who have chosen to not be vaccinated made for over
95% of the COVID-19 patients seen in August, Redick said.
Statewide, the total number of people in hospitals because of COVID-19 is reducing, but this reduction is mainly because some have died, the Washington State Hospital Association’s president Cassie Sauer reported at a WSHA Sept. 20 media briefing.
Once a COVID patient is seriously ill enough to be put on a ventilator, there is a 30% to 50% chance they will die, according to Dr. Dan Getz, the chief medical officer at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, during that briefing.
Locally, 36 people were newly hospitalized with COVID-19 between Sept. 18 and Sept. 25, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from Sept. 25 shows.
Overall countywide as of Tuesday, Sept. 21, there were 102 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, Snohomish County health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said during a weekly media briefing Sept. 21. Fifteen were on ventilators.
Eleven Snohomish County residents died of COVID-19 between Sept. 18 and 25, CDC data says.
Hospitalizations peaked earlier this month statewide.
Providence Everett prepared
for a hypothetical scenario requiring extra ICU rooms well before COVID-19, gathering additional critical-care equipment. Providence prepared the extra ICUs on the forethought they’d be used for responding to a disaster scenario, Redick said. The hospital had used satellite ICUs briefly during the pandemic before, but it was never at the scale of constantly running them until August’s surge.
“It’s one set of challenges to set up ICU beds ... it’s another to safely staff the ICU beds,” Redick said, stating frankly that hospital nurses already are working long hours. Running satellite ICUs is “a real stretch for us” to do, he said.
Also, satellite ICUs interrupt other parts of the hospital: The ICU rooms “take beds from acute care services, which has a downstream effect” within, Redick said.
Hospitals are delaying, but not suspending, non-urgent procedures which could result in needing an ICU bed for recuperation. These can include certain cancer-related surgeries to remove tumors or polyps as well as precarious heart valve replacements. At Providence, these surgeries are being delayed until capacity is available to safely manage care, Redick said.
Capacity limits mean lately that a small number of Emergency Room beds are consistently being assigned for general patient care, he said.
COVID patients were taking about 9.5% of the beds available in the county as of Sept. 24. As for ICUs, COVID-19 patients are now taking a little under 30 percent of the county’s available ICU critical-care beds. Earlier this month, the numbers were closer to 10% of all beds and over 30% of the county’s ICU beds, CDC data showed.
Transfers between hospitals to place patients in open beds continue.
Providence Everett is getting six patients a day transferred into the hospital. Transfer requests come from both inside Washington and from Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
Redick said there are two ways the public can help lighten the stress being pressed onto hospital staff: One is to avoid risky behavior that can land you in the hospital. The other is to get vaccinated.
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