Area Hospitals Seeing Surges In Patient Numbers, Sparking Concern Over Capacity

Fri 10-9-2020

(Spirit Lake)-- Concern is growing as area hospitals are now seeing big increases in patient loads. Jason Harrington, CEO of Lakes Regional Healthcare, says while most of the increases are due to COVID-19, there are other factors driving it as well...Hospitalization concerns01 

"We know that some of those inpatients are the result of delayed care. So our inpatient numbers are up in either case. And then with our COVID numbers being in double digits, we're typically staffed and have bed resources, really on the inpatient side, we care for about 25 people and we've been at that, almost at that cap, for the last week or so."

Harrington says it's putting a strain on personnel and resources at the hospital...Hospitalization concerns02 

"Our staff has done a great job of picking up extra shifts and, you know, caring for sicker patients than what we are normally used to seeing. I think what's also added to that, Steve, is I think particularly our typical referral centers, Sioux Falls and other places, quite frankly those centers are full and so we're keeping sicker patients than what we would normally do, and we have an agreement with those referring centers that a patient we've sent them, once they're stable enough to come back, we accept them back. Even in incidences where, again it wouldn't be a patient that we would normally care for. Now having said that I can tell you we're in a strong position to take care of those people. We have Remdisivir here which is a medication, a widely recognized medication for helping to treat COVID patients; we have convalescent plasma here, which, again beyond Remdisivir is kind of the next stage of treatment for COVID patients. So we're certainly capable. We also have a number of virtual E-Hopsital, EICU and other kind of virtual services that assist us with that."

Harrington says due to the situation, Lakes Regional Healthcare will be implementing a restriction on visitors effective at 8:00 am tomorrow (Sat.)...Hospitalization concerns03 

"But because of the number of COVID inpatients that we have, we are going to restrict visitors to our inpatient unit. And the reason isn't so much to keep COVID out of that unit, but we have some very sick people in that unit. Half of them are COVID positive. So certainly we don't want to bring people into an inpatient unit where they could be exposed to COVID. Now again, the rest of the hospital is isolated from our inpatient unit so I don't have a larger concern."

Harrington is pleading with everyone to wear a mask, social distance, and practice good hygiene, and do everything possible to protect yourself so area hospitals don't become completely overwhelmed.

Having said that, Harrington says hospitals and clinics remain a safe place to be and he urges everyone to continue with their appointments to get any ongoing health issues cared for.