CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KSEE) – Central Valley hospitals continue to care for a high volume of COVID-19 patients and are preparing for another potential surge.
“Our hospitals and our health department, we’re all gearing up for another battle. We’re gearing up to go to battle again with a new surge, so during this time, the hospitals and EMS have all been getting more personnel in. The hospitals have all gotten state personnel in to assist,” Fresno County Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch said.
Some local counties have seen slight decreases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, but Lynch said the ICU is still severely impacted.
“Even though it shows that COVID positive patients in ICUs are decreasing, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have additional ICU patients that are not COVID-related filling those ICU beds,” he said.
At Madera Community Hospital, ICU patients have to be transferred to other hospitals. Some to nearby hospitals – others to areas such as Sacramento and Riverside.
“We’re actively working right now on transferring ICU patients out of Madera Community Hospital,” Lynch said. “We have patients that need to be evacuated out of that hospital.”
He added that state officials were at the hospital Wednesday to determine whether or not some patients could be transported.
“It all depends on who’s stable enough to transfer to another facility because these are complex patients, sick patients, and taking an ambulance ride for three hours is not going to be supportive of their life at that point,” he said. “We are airlifting some patients out of Madera Community Hospital.”
At Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, Deanette Sisson, the chief medical officer at the hospital, says they are still treating a high number of COVID-19 patients – but not as high as their last peak. However, they are still bracing themselves for another potential surge.
“Right now the prediction is that somewhere in early February we would see one of our highest peaks and since our numbers are down some, but not down as much as they were before, if we get another boost on top of that, it would certainly be significant,” Sisson said.
She added that the state now has a process where hospitals can put in weekly requests. The state can then move people around if one part of California is surging more than other parts.
At Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, as of Wednesday morning, the hospital was caring for 143 COVID-19 patients, a decrease from their peak of 169.
“Today is the lowest day that I have seen in a couple of months, at least dating back to all the way to Thanksgiving,” Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst said.
He added that he hopes this decrease isn’t short-term, but they continue to prepare for another potential rise in patients. They have received help from an additional 39 medical personnel.
The hospital added eight additional beds to provide ICU level care to COVID-19 patients, but those beds are full. As of Wednesday, the hospital had seven available licensed ICU beds for non-COVID-19 patients.
“We’re working hard to not have to go into that crisis care mode but we have to be prepared for it,” Herbst said.