Avera and Sanford discuss hospital bed capacity

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 7:07 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Current hospitalizations in South Dakota due to COVID-19 are at 211. According to the Department of Health’s dashboard, nearly half of the state’s hospital beds and a third of ICU beds are currently available.

The number of hospitalizations continues to be the key metric according to local government and health officials. And as that number continues to increase, so do concerns about capacity.

Over the past several weeks Sanford and Avera have seen an increased need for care. However, doctors say not all of that is due to COVID 19. They believe some of it is because of delayed care. During this pandemic, some people have been too nervous to go to the doctor.

“Six months ago we would see somebody show up at the first signs of any chest pain. Now they are showing up with full-fledged heart attacks because they waited a day or two. And so that causes them to stay longer and require more intensive care because they waited that time,” said Dr. David Basel, Vice President of Clinical Quality for Avera Medical Group.

Doctors also want people to know if you hear a patient being transferred, it’s not due to a lack of room.

“We have facilities throughout this region. We at times may prioritize where can the care best be delivered and try to be thoughtful of that,” said Dr. Mike Wilde, Vice President Medical Officer of Sanford Sioux Falls.

Avera says COVID-19 hospitalizations make up around 10 percent of patients across their hospitals. Sanford says it doesn’t report COVID numbers for individual facilities but gives those numbers to the state.

When it comes to hospital bed capacity, representatives from both Avera and Sanford say they are confident in the procedures and policies that have been implemented.

“Certain areas of the hospital that we really focus more for the COVID patients. So that includes things like the air exchanges and just having the proper equipment for the staff to care for the patients,” said Dr. Wilde.

“The protocols about things like Dexamethasone and how much oxygen to give them and how much fluids to give them have all been established and shared and so now we’ve got a lot more ability to care for patients at all 37 of our hospitals,” said Dr. Basel.

Avera also says it has ICUs and hospital wings they can open up if COVID cases increase throughout the fall.

Meanwhile, doctors want people to know there’s more to consider than just looking at reported bed capacity numbers as that can change hour to hour.

Dr. Basel recommends looking at the trends instead.

"On any given day at 10 am if you ask me that I’d say, “Well we don’t have any beds available, but by 1 pm you know we try to discharge as many people as we can.' In the mornings, you know once they get up and the doctor has had a chance to see them. So that will be a totally different answer than the afternoon,” said Dr. Basel.

With COVID overlapping with flu season, doctors recommend everyone gets their flu shot this year to help keep flu hospitalizations down.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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