Kootenai Health hits record high COVID hospitalizations as hospitals in Spokane remain ‘uncomfortably’ full
Kootenai Health on Friday recorded a record 127 hospitalized patients with coronavirus, including 42 people requiring intensive care.
There are also three patients hospitalized with the virus in Coeur d’Alene under the age of 18.
While hospitalizations appear to be declining elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, eastern Washington state and northern Idaho, the two regions with lower vaccination rates, are seeing less improvement.
Dr Robert Scoggins, medical director of the intensive care unit at Kootenai Health, said the hospital is still operating to crisis care standards when it comes to staffing levels. This means that rationing of care is possible in certain situations.
Team nursing is also in effect in the ICU, where an ICU nurse works with two other non-ICU nurses to treat six patients, he told reporters on Wednesday.
The vast majority of COVID patients are not vaccinated, and Scoggins said the number of COVID deaths recorded in September was a record for the number of coronavirus patients who died in hospital in a single month. The hospital recorded 57 deaths in September, and 38 of them were due to COVID-19.
Many younger patients, he believes, did not need to die and could have been saved if they had been vaccinated.
“It’s disheartening to see these patients die; several of them are younger, ”Scoggins said earlier this week.
In the five-county region of northern Idaho, 47% of eligible people aged 12 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Some counties in eastern Washington have even lower vaccination rates, and health officials expect this to continue to impact the number of cases.
Parts of the Northeast Tri-County Health District have case rates twice as high as the declining Washington state average.
“We think we have weeks ahead of us to see some sort of substantial decrease in these case rates,” Health District Administrator Matt Schanz told reporters on Friday.
The three counties in northeast Washington have an average vaccination rate of 41% for those 12 years and older receiving at least one dose.
Hospitalizations in Spokane County leveled off last week, allowing more transfers into the system. But Dr Dan Getz, chief medical officer at Providence Spokane, said hospitals are still at uncomfortable levels, which is why they haven’t resumed all surgeries.
Getz said the decline in hospitalizations in western Washington is yet to be seen in eastern Washington.
“We’re not there yet because we don’t have the same vaccination rate,” Getz told reporters on Friday.
In Spokane County, nearly 63% of eligible residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Hospitals are still assessing staffing levels on a daily basis and are awaiting state aid for more contract workers.
About a month ago, the Department of Health asked some 1,200 contract workers to assist staff in state hospitals through the General Services Administration. The department called for medical and non-medical staff after receiving requests from more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities statewide.
The Department of Health is currently working with the provider, as well as the licensing boards, to allow staff to practice clinical practice in the state. As of Friday, the state still doesn’t know how many people will be entering the state. No one has been sent so far.
The state has also requested additional federal support, but there was no update on whether those requests will result in more staff on Friday.
Here is an overview of local numbers
The Spokane Regional Health District has reported 222 cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths.
There are 190 people hospitalized in Spokane hospitals.
The Panhandle Health District reported 252 new cases and 1,647 pending cases on Friday.
There are 124 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.