West Colorado County health officials said all hospitals in the area would start operating with “overvoltage.”
MESA COUNTY, Colorado – There are currently no intensive care units in Mesa County and district hospitals are reaching “critical capacity and staffing thresholds” due to COVID-19, Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) said Thursday.
MCPH is monitoring hospital capacity and bed usage and said no intensive care beds were available as of Wednesday, Nov. 18.
All hospitals in the area will start activating surges to ensure that extra rooms and beds are ready for use, the agency said. Officials said they were able to move to this new level of care due to the “stable co-planning process”
But “full” does not mean closed to business. Overvoltage capacity means finding a place.
“Our normally available intensive care beds in four hospitals are full,” said MCPH CEO Jeff Kur. “That’s half of what we could have at our disposal.
“With the 50’s full, we can get access to another 100 beds if needed. But that’s staff.”
Transferring less acute or recovering patients is also part of the plan. It has already happened.
“We had some situations where we had to transport from one hospital to another to use medical surges,” Kur said.
The capacity of the intensive care unit can change daily depending on the turnover of patients.
MCPH plans to launch an online tool as early as Friday that provides the community with regular updates on hospital bed space.
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“St. Mary, like other health facilities across the country, has been and continues to be affected by COVID-19 as cases continue to rise in Mesa County, ”said Brian Johnson, president of St. Mary’s Medical Center. “We have hospital beds and we have established plans for overstrain, which will allow us to increase capacity and provide safe and quality care for as many patients as we need.
“We all need to play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Please be proactive and do your part to take the necessary precautions. Wash your hands, wear a mask and continue to practice social distancing.”
More than 2,000 cases have been reported among Mesa County residents in the past two weeks, according to the MCPH. Approximately one in 130 people in Mesa County has COVID-19 based on current test data, health officials said.
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This means that in a week, if you meet 20 people a day outside your household, you will probably be in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
“Widespread community transmission has affected long-term care facilities, prisons and our homeless people, often through staff who take the virus into the community. Hospital staff are also affected, and if hospital staff are isolated due to illness, they cannot take care of patients, “said Kur.
Mesa County health officials said there was an urgent need for staff at local hospitals.
“We are definitely short of staff,” said Dr. Thomas Tobin, chief medical officer at Grand Junction Hospital. He said 10-20% of staff had been affected by COVID in the past month.
“Primarily because some of our staff are getting sick. Their family members at home are getting sick from COVID, exposing themselves, getting sick and obviously can’t get to work.”
The municipal hospital has about 44-52 beds under normal conditions, Tobin said. The hospital has launched a “Level 1” four-stage overvoltage plan. At this stage, level 1 means isolation of beds for patients with COVID. Levels increase to more significant changes, such as the addition of beds. Stage 4, Tobin said, will increase the hospital to 70 beds.
“This is a call to arms,” said Richard Salgeiro, executive director of the Western Colorado health care system, regarding staffing issues, encouraging all retired or displaced clinical staff in the community to intervene if possible.
Hospitalizations are increasing across the state and may soon face capacity constraints.
“It was literally like switching a switch for us,” said Tobin, CMO of the Municipal Hospital. “We felt pretty good last week at that time. Then Monday came and he was here.”
Hospitals have been preparing for this scenario for months. Tobin said he was proud of the West Slope hospitals working together.
For the communities around the state that are watching the development of Mesa County, knowing that they may soon find themselves in the same situation, he suggests this:
“Every individual matters. Those who do the right things then help us help the rest of the community. Each of us who does the right things allows us to have the resources and staff, God forbid, to take care of our own your favorite ones that may be affected by this infection, “he said.
“Everyone has to do their little part. It’s not just a supplement, it’s a multiplier effect.”
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