Idaho hospitals feeling the pressure of COVID-19 uptick

Posted at 4:21 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 18:50:26-04

Idaho, like many other states, is continuing to see an uptickin COVID-19 cases and local hospitals are feeling the pressure.

On Monday, Idaho had over 600 new cases reported and there have been over 2,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic

St. Luke's officials say just six weeks ago, ICU cases were in the single digits and overall hospitalizations were at a low since the start of the pandemic. As of today - there are 116 COVID-19 patients and 31 are in the ICU.

Out of the patients in the ICU, St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Souza says 29 of them are unvaccinated and 2 are fully vaccinated. He also added 26 percent of adults are hospitalized for one condition, that being COVID-19.

“We have 20 units across our organization and 13 do not have a single open bed,” Souza said. “I know people always want to know, ‘how many beds do you have open?’ Asking that question is liking asking people how many people are in line at the fair. It depends and is always changing as people come and go.”

St. Luke's officials also said the virus is impacting staff — nearly 200 employees called out sick Tuesday and about half are sick with the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 is impacting our people too and our capacity for care but its highly dynamic and really challenging to manage this right now,” he said.

Over at Saint Alphonsus, officials say what we are seeing now is just the beginning. Saint Alphonsus tracks testing positivity rate and around July 4 it was near five percent and now it's around 18-19%.

Officials say the number of patients hospitalized in Saint Alphonsus has doubled in the last week or so.

"We are going to continue to see exponential growth of covid prevalence in our communities and that will continue to cover to hospitalizations. It takes about two weeks from the time you acquire the virus to needing hospitalization and for the foreseeable future, we are looking at increasing numbers of patients requiring our services,” Dr. Steven Nemerson, Saint Alphonsus Health System Chief Clinical Officer said.

Saint Alphonsus is also seeing an increase in patients needing ICU beds. Patients are younger than the last surge, as now most patients are below the age of 50.

“We're having patients that have to wait in the emergency department and receive care there until we can make a bed available in the hospital itself and that backup of the system is causing delays in emergency department care,” Nemerson said. “I want to emphasize that doesn't mean that people shouldn't come to the emergency room because we have a way of ensuring that the most urgent emergency care gets tended to immediately.”

Both health systems say they will not turn away patients but may have to shift around to different locations due to capacity being full. COVID-19, on top of other illnesses in the Treasure Valley, has caused demand to be high for staff.