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This is going to get far worse before it gets better: ICUs overloaded across California amid COVID surge – KCRA Sacramento

The surge in coronavirus cases across the state of California has health officials warning of a dark winter.”The numbers that we’re seeing in California related to COVID are nothing short of alarming,” said Carmela Coyle, CEO of the California Hospital Association.As of Sunday, Coyle said California was at about 80% capacity for beds in intensive care units.”If you look at some of our more rural counties, they have fewer ICU beds to begin with,” Coyle explained. “But the most important factor is how we are doing in limiting the spread of COVID infection. So what we see right now where our ICUs are particularly challenged — Imperial County, San Diego County, nearly all of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley — it is because we have seen outbreaks in those areas, whether it’s in the community, most recently in some of the inmate population. It’s just very, very challenging. What we know as we’re looking at the numbers is this will spread to Northern California in a matter of just a few days.”What happens if these conditions worsen?”Unfortunately for us it is probably not an ‘if,’ it’s just a matter of when,” Coyle responded. When those conditions worsen, hospitals will continue to surge to create more space available to try to stretch those all-important staffing resources as much as we can, as safely as we can.””When we surged before, we were able to tap into a pool of traveling nurses. Unfortunately, most, if not all, of those traveling nurses now are in the Midwest in the mountain states because they resurged before we did.” According to Coyle, California’s “greatest limiting factor” in dealing with COVID-19 is the shortage of critical care nurses.California is the only state with a nurse-to-patient ratio law, which only allows two patients for every one nurse. Some hospitals are seeking waivers from the state that would allow nurses to care for more patients.”There are some hospitals who have already had those waivers approved. What we’re talking about right now is to make certain that we can flex those ratios in the ICU, for example, to have instead of one nurse caring for two patients, one nurse caring for three patients. Otherwise, what happens when you come to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms is you will sit in the emergency department rather than getting into the ICU.”Why are we seeing a surge in ICU capacity now?”It has everything to do with what you and I and all of our friends and neighbors do as Californians,” Coyle replied. “What we did well and early in California is we went to masking policies and physical distancing policies that helped us keep that spread of infection really bent and we’ve bent that curve of infection. People are tired and want to get back to a sense of normalcy.”The Hospital Association CEO said this latest surge could be tied directly to the Halloween holiday. “You can exactly time it to people having been out and about. The worst part of these numbers is they do not yet include the Thanksgiving holiday and the gathering we know that California did. So, this is going to get far worse before it gets better.”

The surge in coronavirus cases across the state of California has health officials warning of a dark winter.

“The numbers that we’re seeing in California related to COVID are nothing short of alarming,” said Carmela Coyle, CEO of the California Hospital Association.

As of Sunday, Coyle said California was at about 80% capacity for beds in intensive care units.

“If you look at some of our more rural counties, they have fewer ICU beds to begin with,” Coyle explained. “But the most important factor is how we are doing in limiting the spread of COVID infection. So what we see right now where our ICUs are particularly challenged — Imperial County, San Diego County, nearly all of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley — it is because we have seen outbreaks in those areas, whether it’s in the community, most recently in some of the inmate population. It’s just very, very challenging. What we know as we’re looking at the numbers is this will spread to Northern California in a matter of just a few days.”

What happens if these conditions worsen?

“Unfortunately for us it is probably not an ‘if,’ it’s just a matter of when,” Coyle responded. When those conditions worsen, hospitals will continue to surge to create more space available to try to stretch those all-important staffing resources as much as we can, as safely as we can.”

“When we surged before, we were able to tap into a pool of traveling nurses. Unfortunately, most, if not all, of those traveling nurses now are in the Midwest in the mountain states because they resurged before we did.”

According to Coyle, California’s “greatest limiting factor” in dealing with COVID-19 is the shortage of critical care nurses.

California is the only state with a nurse-to-patient ratio law, which only allows two patients for every one nurse. Some hospitals are seeking waivers from the state that would allow nurses to care for more patients.

“There are some hospitals who have already had those waivers approved. What we’re talking about right now is to make certain that we can flex those ratios in the ICU, for example, to have instead of one nurse caring for two patients, one nurse caring for three patients. Otherwise, what happens when you come to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms is you will sit in the emergency department rather than getting into the ICU.”

Why are we seeing a surge in ICU capacity now?

“It has everything to do with what you and I and all of our friends and neighbors do as Californians,” Coyle replied. “What we did well and early in California is we went to masking policies and physical distancing policies that helped us keep that spread of infection really bent and we’ve bent that curve of infection. People are tired and want to get back to a sense of normalcy.”

The Hospital Association CEO said this latest surge could be tied directly to the Halloween holiday.

“You can exactly time it to people having been out and about. The worst part of these numbers is they do not yet include the Thanksgiving holiday and the gathering we know that California did. So, this is going to get far worse before it gets better.”

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