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Letter from Iowa health care system may shed light on hospital bed availability in South Dakota

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Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 8:42 PM CDT
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9/25/20 10 p.m. UPDATE: As of 10:00 p.m. Friday, wording of the letter on the Orange City Area Health System’s website changed. The paragraph that once said hospitals in Sioux Falls and Sioux City were at “full capacity” now reads: “Some of the more acute patients who would typically be transferred to larger hospitals (in Sioux Falls and Sioux City) are being cared for locally due to increased demand. Sioux Falls-area hospitals have assured Sioux County health systems that they continue to accept critical COVID-19 patients, and it is well within their ability to do so.Dakota News Now obtained a screenshot of the article before the change was made (see below.)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As of Friday, current COVID-19 hospitalizations in South Dakota remain at 194.

The South Dakota Department of Health is reporting that 8% of the state’s hospital beds and 11% of ICU beds are being used for COVID-19 patients.

State statistics as of Friday evening show that roughly 40% of hospital beds and 30% of ICU beds are available.

But those numbers have been called into question as of late.

Many people are taking to social media to say they know or have heard of COVID patients being sent out of state or out of town for care because hospital beds in and around the Sioux Falls area are reportedly full or near-maximum capacity.

In a Department of Health call earlier this week, Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon refuted those claims, saying state statistics show more than 1,000 hospital beds still available. Malsam-Rysdon said she has not received any information suggesting patients are needing to be transported out-of-state for treatment.

But a letter released Friday from the Orange City Area Health System appears to contradict those claims.

The letter says administrators from the four Sioux County Health Systems met with community leaders to discuss the current status of the coronavirus outbreak in the region.

Sioux County is currently experiencing a COVID-19 “positivity rate” of 30 percent, which is reportedly higher than any other county in Iowa.

The letter goes on to say that patients from the Sioux County area who would typically be transferred to larger hospitals in Sioux Falls and Sioux City are being cared for locally due to “full capacity” in those hospitals.

State officials have not yet commented on the letter.

Dr. Chad Thury of Avera Health and Dr. Michael Wilde of Sanford Health are expected to speak Monday on the current status of COVID-19 in the area at the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls’ lunchtime meeting.

The two are expected to discuss a multitude of topics including the recent increase in hospitalization rates, updates on therapeutics and a vaccine, mental health considerations, and what the latest modeling for influenza season looks like.

Dakota News Now received the following statement from Avera Health on Wednesday afternoon:

“We learned a lot from our initial experience with the COVID-19 pandemic which has better prepared us to manage as infections rise this fall. Avera is an integrated health system across five states – and our 37 hospitals have surge plans in place to care for higher volumes. Additionally, Avera@Home continues to monitor and care for hundreds of individuals who are positive for COVID-19 in the comfort of their own homes. We strongly encourage the continued use of masks, social distancing and proper hand hygiene to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

10 p.m. UPDATE: As of 10:00 p.m. Friday, wording of the letter on the Orange City Area Health System’s website changed. The paragraph that once said hospitals in Sioux Falls and Sioux City were at “full capacity” now reads: “Some of the more acute patients who would typically be transferred to larger hospitals (in Sioux Falls and Sioux City) are being cared for locally due to increased demand. Sioux Falls-area hospitals have assured Sioux County health systems that they continue to accept critical COVID-19 patients, and it is well within their ability to do so.

Dakota News Now obtained a screenshot of the article before the change was made:

Letter sheds light on hospital bed availability in SD
Letter sheds light on hospital bed availability in SD(https://www.ochealthsystem.org/)

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