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Bed availability shrinking at CHI Health hospitals

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 2:03 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 2:05 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KSNB) - CHI Health CEO Cliff Robertson gave his weekly update on CHI Health’s COVID-19 numbers across the 14-hospital system.

Robertson said they now have 330 COVID patients across the state in the CHI Health system, with 85 patients in the ICU and 33 patients on ventilators.

Derek Vance, president of CHI Health St. Elizabeth and CHI Health Nebraska Heart in Lincoln also attended the meeting and said a main focus for their hospital system is making sure there’s enough nursing staff at all times.

“We have a great staff and are lucky that we haven’t had much in turnover; that has really helped us. However, we have recently brought on 8 traveling nurses and hope to obtain another 12 nurses,” he said. Vance also said they are recruiting college and grad students for seasonal work to help with more admin type roles.

“This will free up our licensed staff to focus on their more important tasks,” Vance said.

Vance said the majority of their patients are now local and also sicker than patients they were seeing earlier on during the spring months.

“Right now of the patients we have, all 35 are on constant oxygen. Earlier on we had patients that weren’t as sick in the hospital, but kept them there out of precaution or for isolation purposes. Now the only COVID patients we admit are those in need of constant oxygen,” Vance said.

Vance also said their bed availability is shrinking, but they do have alternative plans.

“Right now we have one bed open in our ICU. Our capacity is 16 critical care beds. We are at 15 now. If all beds end up being filled, we’ll look to downgrade patients when it’s appropriate. But sometimes that’s not possible. We’ve now identified an additional area in St. Elizabeth for an additional 8 beds in the next couple of days if need be.”

When it comes to a vaccine, Robertson said they are ready and have manufactured the appropriate freezers needed to store and transport the vaccine once shipments are ready.

In terms of the upcoming holidays, both Robertson and Vance urged people to keep their gatherings small, wear masks when appropriate and maintain physical distancing.

“As we enter the season of gratitude, thank those professionals that have chosen healthcare as a career. What these people have gone through over the last 6 months and more to come is not something most will see in a lifetime. They are truly heroes and many won’t be spending time with their family this holiday season. By helping us you can say thanks,” Robertson said.

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