The St. John’s Health Urgent Care clinic saw a sudden influx of patients who had contracted the COVID-19 virus and needed to be hospitalized over the weekend. Other patients experienced delays as a result.
St. John’s Chief Communications Officer Karen Connelly said limited bed capacity, staffing shortages and higher acuity of patients are growing concerns. The hospital’s COVID-19 response team is now meeting again on a regular basis “to stay on top of resource planning and other issues.”
Visitor restrictions are also in place, Connelly said, due to risk and occupancy levels. She recommends calling the hospital before trying to visit a patient. Most regular screenings and necessary medical appointments can still be scheduled.
“We saw the numbers steadily ticking up, but then yesterday we got hit all at once,” Lisa Campbell, director of the cardiopulmonary division at St. John’s Health said Tuesday.
The hospital’s website showed four laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients in the Primary Care Unit and two in the Intensive Care Unit.
Campbell said at least four COVID-19 patients were using high flow oxygen therapy units. Those units, which are preferred over ventilators, are in short supply. The hospital has eight and recently ordered more to be delivered from Salt Lake City.
Campbell said the hospital is “just preparing in case we need more.” They’ve learned from the pandemic that it’s better to be proactive.
On Monday, 83% of ICU beds were full, according to the hospital website. Some patients have since been able to transfer to primary care.
Half of the COVID-19 patients are local and the other half are tourists, Campbell said. The hospital is also seeing “breakthrough cases,” or fully vaccinated individuals who still contract the virus.
A couple visiting from Georgia received the Pfizer vaccine in March, but they both tested positive for COVID-19. Campbell said their condition was “not as severe,” as for most unvaccinated patients.
The majority of new cases are coming from unvaccinated individuals, Connelly said.