Health officials at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital hosted a livestream event to answer the community’s COVID-19-related questions Tuesday amid a surge in both cases and hospitalizations, calling on Santa Clarita Valley residents to adhere to public health practices to slow the spread.
Dr. Larry Kidd, Henry Mayo’s senior vice president and chief clinical officer, and Dr. Bud Lawrence, medical director of Henry Mayo’s Emergency Department, provided a hospital update, addressing the surge as well as the COVID-19 vaccine set to be released in L.A. County as early as next week, which Henry Mayo has been approved to administer.
This comes as Henry Mayo reported 67 COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday, an increase of 15 admissions since Thursday, along with four deaths in the last 48 hours, according to hospital spokesman Patrick Moody.
Along with the COVID-19 surge, patients that had slowed in coming to the hospital for other conditions, such as heart attack or stroke, through the early days of the pandemic have begun to return, Kidd said.
“As a result, our censuses increased in both COVID and non-COVID-related (patients),” Kidd added. “We do have the capacity to open additional units in the hospital as needed, so we flex the number of beds we use up and down. And of course the staffing demands increase as a result of more patients presenting, so right now we have the ability to accommodate a lot more patients.”
While hospital officials did not give a hard number or percentage of bed or intensive care unit capacity, Kidd said the new Patient Tower has allowed the hospital to accommodate the influx, as the majority of COVID-19 patients are housed in that building.
“We could easily take 20 (to) 25 patients without a problem (and) could expand that,” Kidd added. “So we’re still in good shape bed-wise currently at the hospital.”
Lawrence went on to discuss the vaccine, which is set to go before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday for emergency use authorization, and how these vaccines were able to be created so quickly.
“The reason why they were able to be made so quickly is that once we got the genetic code to this SARS-CoV-2 virus, we were able to immediately find out where this mRNA (messenger RNA) is in that code, pull it out and start right away making those vaccines within a few days,” he said, adding that the safety data for both vaccines has been “very good,” with 90% or more effectiveness. “When we look at public health and how we’re going to manage this COVID-19 outbreak and this crisis, I think the vaccine at this point is going to be probably our best bet to ensure that we’re able to get this under control. … I think the vaccine is a great choice for most everyone, and I almost would say a mandatory choice for someone who’s high risk.”
To watch the full live stream, visit facebook.com/HenryMayoHospital.