Argonaut – Latah County sees increase in COVID-19 cases, threatening to overload local medical networks


Gritman Medical Center details the strain COVID-19 puts on resources as they stay within emergency care standards.

Gritman has yet to ask to activate crisis care standards, continuing to operate under emergency care standards, as he has been doing for a few months now. As resources continue to be increasingly limited due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 across Latah County, the ability of the medical center to maintain its emergency status is compromised.

According to a press release from Gritman, the emergency care standards allow “the continuous assessment of the space, personnel, supplies and standards of care available.” Gritman has remained at this level of care since the early days of the pandemic, not yet needing to transition to crisis standards.

“We’ve been at contingent levels of care for quite some time, which means things like staff limitations, supply limitations, space limitations, technology or drug limitations, all of those complex factors. combine to paint a picture of hospital capacity, ”Gritman director said. community relations and marketing, said Peter Mundt.

As the hospital actively seeks to recruit additional health workers, widespread demand makes it difficult, even with accelerated licensing procedures.

“In general, we try to recruit providers, whether they are doctors or nurse practitioners or any number of medical assistants, medical assistants throughout the organization as much as possible,” said Brad Gary, head of content marketing for Gritman. “It’s like everywhere else in the country that there is a shortage of these suppliers, but we are bringing in suppliers at all levels right now. ”

Gary added that while new staff is not being taken care of on a daily basis, there are “new vendors going on quite frequently right now.”

According to Mundt, Gritman is currently under its heaviest workload since the start of the pandemic.

To help tackle the increased demand for medical services, Gritman recently set up a patient care unit within the hospital dedicated to COVID-19. In the past few weeks alone, the nursing unit has been at full capacity on several occasions, Mundt said.

“We are certainly seeing the highest hospitalizations we have seen throughout the pandemic and we are certainly seeing the greatest demand from our emergency department,” Mundt said, adding that this record demand was also visible in clinics. Gritman QuickCARE and drive-thru. test sites.

Mundt said this could be attributed in part to the more contagious viral variants that were circulating that were not present in the early spring and summer of last year.

Despite the change in variants, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is still vaccination.

“The numbers are clear,” Mundt said. “This variant, this mutation affects unvaccinated people. We know nationally, looking at data from across the country, that this affects young people more than the first waves that affected the elderly. ”

According to data compiled by the Public Health – Idaho North Central District, as of September 1, Latah County has recorded a total of 457 cases of COVID-19, of which 25.16% were between the ages of 18 and 29, the most large of the measured age groups. This is a significant increase from August, when Latah County recorded a total of 337 cases. As the number of cases continues to rise, hospitals have less and less room to care for non-COVID-19 patients.

“Hospitals always need the ability to provide care for heart attacks, strokes and trauma and deliver babies and all the other important things that go on in a hospital that are unrelated to the problem. COVID-19, ”Mundt said. “Because of this increase, it reduces the ability of the hospital to help care for these patients.”

Mundt said this altered dynamic has altered the degree to which hospitals interact with each other. Although hospitals are independent entities, an increasing dependence on neighboring medical facilities has become a reality as patients requiring high levels of care have been moved out of hospitals without the resources for treatment.

“This is one of the reasons crisis care standards have been declared,” Mundt said. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to find hospitals that can accommodate a patient.

In order to manage trends in hospitalizations, Mundt stressed that a public effort will need to be made to ensure that healthcare facilities in Idaho are not overburdened.

“We are holding on, as strong as possible,” Mundt said. “We are working together as much as possible because we care so much about this community and our abilities to provide extraordinary care and treatment to anyone who needs it … we just need the public to understand this and hopefully. , helps to do one’s part to keep the health care system running and functioning.

Royce McCandless can be contacted at [email protected] or Twitter @roycemccandless


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