While local health care officials have been asking for the community’s help in creating personal protective equipment since the onset of the pandemic, now the message is simpler: Abide by public health guidelines.
On Wednesday, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital officials stated that within the past month, they’ve seen their average daily hospitalized patient rate due to COVID-19 increase from approximately 15 patients to more than 30 patients on any given day.
The increase in COVID-19 diagnoses is coupled with an influx of patients who had elective or non-emergency care scheduled for earlier this year, and are now coming in for those procedures, said Larry Kidd, chief clinical officer for Henry Mayo.
“But now, we’re seeing those patients come to the hospital, as well as the additional COVID admissions,” said Kidd. “So, with that, it makes for an increasingly full hospital.”
Kidd said the hospital is closer to being at capacity than it has been since the onset of the pandemic, having between 25 and 35 patients each day.
Hospital officials opened additional units in the new six-story patient tower, but the logistics prove challenging almost daily, Kidd said.
“We have a pretty good capacity for beds and being able to expand; however, the requirement to staff those beds has increased exponentially,” said Kidd, adding that many hospital staff are also attempting to organize their personal lives, with many employees having kids distance learning from home. “So, our employees are juggling their own personal circumstances with their ability to be at work, and of course we need more nurses.”
Henry Mayo is not alone in having a shortage in personnel, with hospitals throughout Southern California reporting similar issues.
“The agencies in the past that we might be able to access temporary help — nurses, aides and that sort of thing — they’re pretty much all being booked up,” said Kidd. “There’s not a lot of external resources that we can bring in, so it’s a day-to-day (assessment).”
A silver lining for the hospital, Kidd said, was that based on earlier this year, the hospital has been able to gradually stockpile a “robust inventory” of supplies needed for taking care of patients.
“We could go for a while and be OK,” he said. “But, we’ll continue to see increases in positive patients, and the number of patients needed to be hospitalized for a period of time.”
Officials will be looking at the 10th day after Thanksgiving, Kidd said, as they believe there could be an issue with residents not abiding by proper health and safety guidelines on Thursday, bringing more people into communal spaces and increasing risk of exposure.
Henry Mayo has been a part of conversations surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine and how that will be implemented at the local level, but Kidd said people should think of that as a distance away, and masks and social distancing as their “first line of defense.”
“The public is actually controlling the spread, either pulling back or letting down their guard and letting things escalate,” he said.