Valley hospitals facing staffing shortages get assistance from state

Coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – With Central Valley hospitals experiencing a surge of patients, the state is stepping in to help.

“We are in a very dire situation with our healthcare system,” said Fresno County Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch.

In Fresno County, over 380 people are in a hospital bed with COVID, the most since February 5.

“That number keeps rising,” said Lynch. “That is a huge demand on the hospitals.”

On Friday, St. Agnes Medical Center and Community Medical Centers requested over 100 extra healthcare professionals from the state to keep up with the patient demand.

“Sometimes you have a sick patient in a chair that is sitting there for a long period of time cause you can’t get them in a bed,” said Emergency Medicine Physician Sukhjit Dhillon. “You are literally doing the best you can do with the resources you have. Have I cried in my car multiple times? Yes. Even before COVID, it used to happen when I would have terrible shifts but are those more frequent? Yes.”

The state heard the plea and sent 30 healthcare workers to CRMC and a handful to St. Agnes.

In Tulare, Kaweah Health requested 20 medical-surgical nurses but was only able to get 4 ICU nurses from the state.

“It will help,” said Kaweah Health VP and Chief Nursing Officer Keri Noeske. “But we were not able to get the 20 nurses that we need so we will continue to draw on our own staff for extra shifts and overtime every week to meet the need.”

Up in the north valley, Sierra View Hospital opened a second COVID ward due to the number of patients flooding in. Officials requested two dozen additional nurses from the state and got six.

“That is really challenging for the staff to try and prepare care for all the patients that are overwhelming us right now,” said Sierra View Chief Nursing Officer Jeffery Hudson-Covolo.

Even though the requests weren’t completely met by the state, most valley hospitals continue to stay strong during the difficult times.

“Our staff is resilient,” said St. Agnes Chief Medical Officer W. Eugene Egerton. “We stand ready to do what is necessary in order to take care of the community, particularly those in need of hospitalization.”

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