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St. Luke's adding additional ICU to keep up with demand

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Posted at 3:40 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 18:00:18-04

MAGIC VALLEY — St. Luke's health officials say they are adding another intensive care unit to keep up with the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Currently, all of their ICU beds are full.

“We are seeing as high or higher critical care needs than we ever have including our pre-delta surge last winter," said Dr. Laura McGeorge, St. Luke’s System Medical Director for Primary Care.

Health officials say staff members are also working extra hours to keep up with demand.

“Just to help you understand how serious the situation is, we are in the process of opening the intensive care unit. This is something that was not an intensive care unit, didn’t exist as an intensive care unit, wasn’t built to be an intensive care unit, but we are pivoting to that," McGeorge said.

But they are also facing other challenges besides physical space.

“We now have to find extra intensive care doctors, extra respiratory therapists, and extra critical care nurses to fill a unit that we never even had before as a critical care unit," McGeorge said.

Health officials say an overwhelming amount of the ICU patients are COVID-19 patients and, of those patients, a majority are not vaccinated.

As the surge continues across the nation, St. Luke's is also admitting patients from other states.

“I’ve also been in touch with physicians in other parts of the state through a role that I have and the hospitals are getting calls from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana to help and send patients from as far away as they are," McGeorge said.

They also fear not having enough resources to keep up with demand in the future.

“There could be a time where we just don’t have the ability. It probably won’t be a space issue, it’s probably going to be a resource issue. There are only so many intensive care doctors. The best care we know for critical care patients is coming from people who are experts in taking care of those kinds of patients," McGeorge said.

Health officials continue to urge those who are eligible to get the vaccine to get vaccinated to help control the spread of COVID-19.