ICU bed availability impacting Avera and Sanford due to COVID

ICU bed availability impacting Avera and Sanford due to COVID
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country some states are struggling with hospital bed availability, including right here in South Dakota.

“Total systemwide across Avera we are at the highest level that we’ve been as since January 7th of this year, and our ICU beds have been pretty much at capacity for the last two months at least,” Dr. David Basel said, the vice president of clinical quality for Avera.

“Extremely variable day by day. We are very busy and we expect to be very busy throughout the next six months,” Dr. Jeremy Cauwels said, the chief physician for Sanford.

A lot of the ICU patients at Avera are COVID patients.

“I would say as a general rule right now about half the beds in the ICUs are COVID related,” Basel said.

There is a common theme seen by both health systems.

“More than 95% of the people that are in our ICUs with COVID are unvaccinated,” Cauwels said.

Which impacts the ability to treat patients with other health problems.

“We have to manage the number of surgeries we do every day and the number of cases that we are able to accept from other hospitals. We have to adjust those on a daily basis because of the number of COVID patients that are in all our ICUs,” Cauwels said.

All this as a new variant begins to spread across the country.

“The worry is that the rate that omicron seemed to spread in South Africa was just two to three weeks before it took over as the dominant strain. If that happens right now here, based on our already high level of infections, that would be a problem,” Basel said.

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