CALDWELL, Idaho — On this Labor Day, it's hard to overlook the long days, weeks and months. Healthcare workers across the state have been dedicated to caring for patients with COVID-19.
Hospital staff is still stretched thin with very few ICU beds available statewide. Idaho is seeing its highest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests all year with 14% of tests now turning up positive for the virus.
Just like every other hospital in Idaho, West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell is hitting its capacity limits.
“This is a different time. We’re doing everything we can to take care of everyone who needs it, but there are limits and someday we’ll reach them,” Chief Medical Officer Richard Agustus said.
Last week, the hospital only had two out of their 13 ICU beds open, making them 84% percent full of COVID-19 patients and they are not alone.
“There is a great stress on the system,” Agustus said. “The entire country is experiencing this. We’re getting calls from Oregon and Wyoming. People don’t transfer to West Valley Medical Center from Oregon and Wyoming.”
Agustus says while this is unlike anything the system has seen before, his staff is stepping up to help patients every day.
“I am so impressed with my colleagues who give up themselves repetitively. They are here taking the very best care of the patients they can and they are being asked to do it again and again and again,” Agustus added. “We are not even close to the worst and that scares us because we went into this to care for people and to help people to save them, and we can't.
IDAHO COVID-19 HOT SPOTS: The 3 counties with the highest COVID-19 infection rates in Idaho are Clearwater, Washington, and Lewis. They have a 7-day moving average incidence rates of 137.0, 119.1, 111.7 per 100,000 people respectively. More data: https://t.co/BYu73fcA9Z pic.twitter.com/JYkuEMCGhV— DHW (@IDHW) September 3, 2021
The state did hit a vaccine milestone, with more than 1.5 million doses administered. Almost 830,000 Idahoans have received at least one shot and almost 50% of the eligible population statewide is fully vaccinated.
“There's so much that could be done to prevent this that’s not and the folks I work with are heroic in their efforts and we continue to lose people who didn’t have to die,” Agustus said.