Rural hospitals nearing capacity as the state restarts the daily COVID-19 dashboard

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - As the state’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate goes over 10%, Gov. Ricketts and state officials have signed an executive order to restart the daily COVID-19 dashboard. Hospitals reaching capacity is becoming an issue in both rural and urban parts of the state.

At York General, CEO Jim Ulrich said the hospital has been at capacity a handful of times the last three weeks causing staff to change how they do certain procedures.

Ulrich said, “We’ve had some surgeries, not elective surgeries that needed to be done where the patient recovering from surgery could not go to our patient floor and had to recover in our outpatient surgery areas.”

Of its 25 staffed beds, two are set aside for COVID-19 patients and three are for expecting mothers.

They’re also seeing more people coming in for the monoclonal antibody treatment to combat COVID-19. Because of this, they’ve set aside two beds for that.

This limits them to about 18 available beds for other illnesses.

“It’s a lot of illness and a lot of sickness in addition to COVID activity that’s put us at our limit cause it’s hard to transfer patients out,” Ulrich said.

Full hospitals along with difficulties transferring patients isn’t just happening in York, but also in Seward.

Memorial Health Care Systems said last week was their busiest ever.

Roger Reamer, CEO of Memorial Health, said, “The staff has been stretched a little bit more. not being able to transfer as easily as we have in the past has us holding onto individuals that need the next level of care.”

At one point last week, Memorial Health had five COVID-19 patients.

With only 24 staffed beds, their COVID-19 hospitalization rate hit 21%.

This means some people are waiting for care.

“I believe a majority of the time, we’ve been able to admit people and hold them until we were able to transfer them but we’ve had a couple of times where they’ve had to spend quite a time in the emergency room,” Reamer said.

Both CEOs said they’re able to staff all of their beds, but nurses and doctors are growing tired after helping people through the pandemic the last year and a half.

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