COVID-19 surge pushes L.A. hospital to 320% occupancy



Whereas new COVID-19 hospitalizations have leveled off lately in Los Angeles County, many medical services stay overwhelmed. The intensive care unit at one hospital in southwest Los Angeles, Memorial Hospital of Gardena, is at 320% occupancy, officers mentioned Wednesday.

The 172-bed medical heart has been in numerous ranges of “inner catastrophe standing” since March, and the most recent coronavirus surge is manifesting in alarming however more and more acquainted methods — together with shortages of home oxygen supplies which can be delaying the discharge of many COVID-19 sufferers and retaining beds occupied.

Demand for oxygen inside the hospital has skyrocketed as nicely, based on hospital spokeswoman Amie Boersma.

“Bulk oxygen supply has gone from one time monthly to each three days and narrowing,” Boersma mentioned in an e mail. “We should monitor each single day.”

However it’s staffing shortages which can be presenting the best problem. In a area besieged by COVID-19, “it stays very troublesome to search out sufficient ICU nurses,” Boersma mentioned, including that the hospital is looking for touring nurses from across the nation and has additionally requested nursing sources from the National Guard.

Whereas the hospital awaits additional help, it has applied a crew construction that allows employees from closed departments, resembling same-day outpatient surgery, to assist ease workloads and permit ICU nurses to give attention to essentially the most essential duties.

The hospital can also be utilizing superior registered nurse practitioners and doctor assistants to complement the 10-bed ICU and emergency departments and supply “one other set of fingers and eyes,” Boersma mentioned, together with hiring final-year nursing college students to function nursing assistants.

Almost two dozen sufferers requiring intensive care are additionally being handled on the telemetry ground and in restoration rooms, she mentioned.

And though ambulances with essential Superior Life Help sufferers are being diverted as a result of most would require ICU admissions, Boersma mentioned the request for diversion can solely achieve this a lot.

“When nearly all of hospitals are on ALS diversion, no one is on diversion,” she mentioned.

L.A. County hospitals have reported a mean of 750 to 800 new COVID-19 hospitalizations a day — an astonishing quantity that has largely remained regular since Christmas Eve. The depend has led ICUs to be successfully over capability, and hospital morgues are so full that the Nationwide Guard has been known as to help move bodies to the county coroner’s workplace till funeral properties and mortuaries can work by way of the backlog.

There are nonetheless fears that new hospitalizations may rise but once more, a results of transmission over the winter holidays. Ought to that occur, hospitals throughout L.A. County might must ration care, activating groups of triage officers who should resolve which sufferers get essential care nurses, respiratory therapists and entry to ventilators, and which sufferers are given palliative care as they die.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County director of well being companies, mentioned that hospitalization numbers have leveled off considerably in latest days — at slightly below eight,000.

Whereas not growing on the speedy charge seen earlier within the surge, “they’ve leveled at a charge that’s actually not sustainable,” she mentioned throughout a briefing Wednesday. “This excessive plateau doesn’t go away sufficient open beds to take care of sufferers.”

That’s particularly the case, Ghaly mentioned, as a result of the county has but to find out the total ramifications of potential post-holiday exposures. Any will increase in transmission, she warned, “can be completely devastating to our hospitals.”

“For there to be any significant reduction for healthcare suppliers, we’d like a swift and important decline in hospitalizations for a interval of 1 to 2 months at a minimal,” she mentioned.

The county remains to be reporting an extremely high number of new infections — greater than 15,000 a day, on common — and officers say a portion of these testing constructive will, invariably, require hospital care two to 3 weeks later.

As of Tuesday, the newest day for which complete data from the state can be found, there have been 7,906 coronavirus-positive sufferers hospitalized in L.A. County, with 1,699 in intensive care.

Although each these figures have remained comparatively degree, and even decreased barely, Ghaly emphasised they continue to be “unprecedented in the middle of this pandemic in L.A. County, and everybody ought to proceed to be involved about what may occur” in the event that they maintain going up.

Any optimism additionally must be couched by the fact that post-holiday transmission stays unclear, she added.

“If our case numbers proceed to be this excessive, and even go up some, that bodes very poorly for the hospitals,” mentioned Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public well being director.

Except situations enhance, Ferrer mentioned it’s potential the county will pursue additional restrictions — significantly given the looming risk posed by the new variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in the UK and is taken into account to be much more contagious.

“We’re contemplating all choices at this level,” she mentioned. “We’re very, very nervous in regards to the continued excessive variety of instances and really feel like there actually isn’t an enormous window right here to attempt to get the surge below management.”

The stakes, she mentioned, are actually life and demise for a lot of — and all Angelenos should redouble their efforts to guard themselves.

“Do it as in case your life or the lifetime of a beloved one depends upon it,” she mentioned. “As a result of it simply might.”