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Dec. 4, 2022

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Clark County hospital beds almost full but COVID isn’t the only issue

Variety of factors blamed for logjam, including RSV, lack of long-term care beds, staff shortages

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published:
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In Clark County, hospital and intensive care beds continue to remain near capacity, and officials are urging patients with non-emergency health issues to stay out of the emergency department if possible.

As of Thursday, 96.4 percent of hospital beds and 96.6 percent of ICU beds were occupied, according to Clark County Public Health data. Of those patients, people with or suspected of having COVID-19 accounted for only 7.5 percent of hospitals beds and 10.2 percent of ICU beds.

Many Clark County hospital beds are filled by patients who had lingering health issues who could not receive care during the pandemic, according to Kathleen Heim, director of care management at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

Many other patients are filling beds because they have nowhere else to go. As of Tuesday, 56 patients were in the hospital because they couldn’t find room in a long-term or other care facility, according to Heim. She partially attributed this to staffing shortages at hemodialysis centers, adult family homes and in-patient mental health facilities.

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center has reported an unprecedented rise in patient volumes in its emergency department due to rising cases of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus.

On Tuesday, PeaceHealth Southwest saw 17 confirmed cases of the flu in the emergency department, according to Heim.

“Given we are at what is likely the height of the influenza and RSV seasons, we ask at this time you consider other options to assist with your non-emergency health care needs so our team can care for the most ill and vulnerable,” Dr. Jason Hanley, PeaceHealth Southwest Emergency Services medical director, said in a press release. “Please know that we treat everyone who visits our Emergency Department, but those with non-emergency needs will most likely have a longer wait time before we are able to care for you.”

Some patients may be required to wait upward of 12 hours depending on the severity of symptoms they are experiencing, according to Heim.

PeaceHealth Southwest encourages patients with non-emergency health concerns to consider visiting their primary care physician or a same-day urgent care in order to reduce wait times and preserve the emergency department for patients with emergency health issues.

If you are having trouble breathing or getting enough oxygen, Hanley recommends coming into the emergency department right away, according to the press release. For flu or respiratory virus symptoms, such as body aches and coughing, Hanley advises that a primary care physician may be a better option.

PeaceHealth Medical Center’s emergency department is available 24/7 to provide immediate care for those experiencing life-threatening or emergent medical issues.

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