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ICU Capacity ‘Nearing Its Limits’ According to Huntington Hospital Official

Hospital could flex to more ICU beds with additional staff

Published on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 | 12:14 pm

Huntington Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit continues to fill up with COVID-19 patients at an alarming rate.

According to the hospital’s dashboard which was updated on Wednesday morning 90 percent of all the beds in the ICU unit are now occupied by patients battling the Coronavirus.

Currently 27 patients battling COVID-19 are being treated in the ICU unit, up from 22 on Monday when Lori Morgan, Huntington Hospital president/CEO updated the City Council.

It is not known how many of the remaining four ICU beds are occupied by patients being treated for other medical issues or if those beds remain available.

According to Morgan, as of Monday the hospital was using about 41 percent of their total available ventilators, but almost 90 percent of those in use were on COVID patients.

Morgan told the City Council on Monday that the hospital is experiencing “a tsunami of COVID-19 patients.”

“Currently our largest problem is staffing,” said Morgan. “We are currently limiting surgeries. We are obviously doing emergency surgeries, but we are looking at our surgical schedule on a daily basis to decide if we have enough beds to proceed with the cases on the list.”

Morgan said the hospital could “potentially” flex up to 89 ICU beds, but that staffing those beds might pose a problem “unless we were able to relax some of our nurse-patient ratios.’’

Additional nurses who worked temporarily at Huntington during California’s initial surge of COVID cases have since moved on, making staffing for any potential ICU flex-up a worry, Morgan said.

“Like all hospitals in our region, our capacity is nearing its limits. While we have a surge plan, we do not have unlimited staff – every single hospital in our area is impacted by this current crush of COVID-19 patients,” said Dorey Huston, senior manager of Public Relations & Media “We are exhausting all resources to ensure we can provide essential care for our most critically-ill patients and in some cases have adjusted the ratio for our nurse to patient care to help manage the surge. This is a difficult scenario for all hospitals to have to endure.”

The hospital is expected to receive 1,950 doses of the Pfizer anti-COVID vaccine as early as Thursday.

“We are managing but just barely,” said Dr. Kim Shriner, an infectious disease physician at Huntington Hospital.

The city’s health director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh said the lower ICU capacity could mean some people may not receive access to care in emergency situations.

“We all need to be extremely concerned about our access to medical care due to the emergency. It might not be available. In the city of Pasadena if you or I need medical care, we might not be able to be taken care of.”

Goh called on residents to only leave home for essential services, to wear a facial covering when outdoors and stay six feet apart, and not gather with people outside of the household.

After the distribution of vaccines to health care workers, skilled nursing facilities residents and long-term care staff is completed priority will then move to “essential workers,” and then to people at highest risk of severe illness from the virus, such as seniors or those with underlying health conditions.

Vaccines were shipped out this past weekend. The Centers for Disease Control will be allocating doses to CVS and Walgreens which will be responsible for sending teams into the city’s assisted living facilities.

The city remains under a state order that has forced all but essential businesses closed again.

“We are depending on our community to help us stop this surge. Your actions today can save lives in the coming weeks,” Huston said. “Holidays are confirmed to be “super-spreader” events. We need your help. Wear a mask and physical distance as you leave your home for essential work and activities only. And during the upcoming holidays, it’s absolutely vital that you refrain from gathering with anyone outside of your immediate household.”

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