Dealing With A Surge, Hospitals Working To Manage Patients

Posted at 11:00 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 23:00:43-05

LANSING, Mich. — Intensive care units and hospitals are feeling the pandemic pressure. This week the number of patients in ICU beds nationwide was at levels not seen since May. Our Ashley Sampson looks at the systems hospitals use to give patients the best care when doctors worry they are about to be overrun.

Dr. Todd Vento has spent most of his professional life preparing for, “the worst case scenario” He’s an infectious disease specialist who previously worked for the Department of Defense managing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, he’s since been recruited to fight on the COVID frontlines.

Dr. Todd Vento of Intermountain Healthcare explained "when you prepare and constantly live in that world of preparing for a true threat, you do expect is could happen. Months into the COVID 19 pandemic, States in the Mtn West are reaching a critical tipping point. The talk of moving to “crisis level of care” is imminent.

One example, the Utah Hospital Association is reporting double the numbers of COVID patients in hospitals from two weeks ago and 5 times the amount of patients from two months ago.

So what happens at hospitals when numbers surge? The process of “load leveling” happens first. Balancing out where the patients are so you don’t have one facility that has 110 percent of capacity, while another facility is at 70 percent.

Is there some automated computer system that tells them this? Can you give some more info here? Is it: these 7 States all particiate in a program that automatically tells doctors and emergency responders which medical centers have space and can accept/take patients.

Similar systems cover other parts of the country.a process handled by a patient management system called “care traffic control” covering seven westerns states. Next comes, “contingency care” that contingency plan might be ok we are going to need to take care of more COVID patients so that means we convert another hospital that take in non-COVID patients part of the contingency plan also means canceling “non critical” surgeries.

Finally, "crisis levels of care" the concept of the term, crisis standards of care really gets down to a similar process used in combat and the military and I know that may sound harsh, but it’s really about triaging, meaning doctors will be forced to make tough decisions about who gets care and what that will look like.

As many states smash records of COVID cases health care workers are being stretched thin and asking for help. It’s up to us to allow all our livelihoods to continue.

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