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Hospital strains starting to show

Friday, Apr 10, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Lisa Schencker at the Chicago Tribune

At least three Illinois hospitals in Lake County have joined others in the region in hitting a pandemic milestone: filling all of the intensive care beds they had prior to the arrival of the coronavirus, according to county officials.

One of them, Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, acknowledged it nearly ran out of room for more ICU patients Tuesday evening.

The hospital, which had 16 intensive care unit beds before the COVID-19 pandemic, has added many more in recent weeks. But Tuesday night, all ICU beds for which it could provide appropriate staffing were full, said Norman Stephens, CEO of Vista Health System. […]

Since Tuesday, the hospital has gotten more nurses, opened up more ICU beds and discharged many patients, meaning it is no longer on the edge of reaching ICU capacity, Stephens said.

Lots more at the link.

* From the Illinois Nurses Association…

The Illinois Nurses Association today warned that the nurse-to-patient ratio at AMITA St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Joliet is four times higher than safe levels in the units where COVID-19 patients are treated. SJMC had recommended care for patients in COVID care units, who require around the clock care and monitoring, be at a 1 to 1 ratio of nurses to patients.

According to INA, due to COVID-19, that ratio is now up to one nurse for every four patients.

INA learned that 16 nurses are under investigation for COVID-19, creating an immediate shortage of skilled nurses to help patients. The hospital recently furloughed 45 staff including 16 nurses, exacerbating the problem.

“There are not enough nurses in the ER, ICU and the COVID-19 unit,” said Pat Meade, RN at ASJMC. “Runners are needed to assist the nurse because we can’t leave the critical patients.”

Higher nurse to patient ratios is associated with higher mortality rates and higher rates of workplace violence.

The hospital this week reported five deaths associated with COVID-19 and nine patients were transferred from Stateville Correctional Center for treatment. As of today, there are 62 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 or were under investigation for the virus.

INA learned this week that 12 correctional center staff tested positive while 187 staff await results. Additionally, 14 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 77 have shown symptoms. Hospitals in the Joliet area have begun treating these patients and it’s likely all Joliet-area hospitals will be taxed to capacity soon.

“These ratios are putting nurses and patients at risk. A ratio of four patients to one Registered Nurse in an ICU is not safe,” said Alice Johnson, executive director of the INA.

Meade expressed frustration that nurses’ advice on public health preparation was not taken as seriously as it should have been.

* Kristen Schorsch at WBEZ

Some Illinois nursing home residents who have been hospitalized during the COVID-19 pandemic have been stuck in limbo. When hospitals have decided these patients were well enough to return to their long-term care facilities, some nursing homes have resisted taking them back.

The problem is bubbling up around the country, with states stepping in to varying degrees — with some forcing nursing homes to take back COVID-19 patients and others restricting them from returning.

To help address the issue in Illinois, industry groups recently forged a plan and presented it to state officials. The Illinois Department of Public Health released it Tuesday. It makes recommendations on the hand-off of patients between hospitals and nursing homes, depending on how sick the patients are.

For example, it recommends that nursing homes put residents returning from the hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19 in a designated wing or unit, keeping them apart from other residents. For returning patients who aren’t as sick, they can be isolated in their own rooms and wear face masks during treatments until their symptoms clear up or until 14 days have passed since they became sick.

* Meanwhile, here’s Christopher Placek at the Daily Herald

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont has been considered as a possible field hospital that could deal with an overflow of patients, but only as a “last resort,” village officials said.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently toured the 840,000-square-foot village-owned exhibition center, where officials discussed plans for as many as 3,000 beds, should area hospitals become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Christopher Stephens, the convention center’s executive director, said the Army Corps and other officials on the tour “liked the space” and considered using the entire building. But since the sprawling field hospital being built at McCormick Place in Chicago has yet to take any patients, constructing and putting a similar makeshift hospital in Rosemont “would be somewhat of a last resort,” Stephens said.

* Lee Provost at the Kankakee Daily Journal

Wearing a surgical mask constructed from Chicago Cubs-branded fabric, Riverside Healthcare President and CEO Phil Kambic gave local media a tour of what the hospital has put in place in case a rush of COVID-19 patients hits the hospital.

Of course, Kambic and other Riverside Medical Center personnel say they hope these plans are not needed to be enacted, but the hospital stands ready.

“We’re going to be OK,” Kambic said near the conclusion of an approximate two-hour session with media members. “Just be cautious and do the right thing.”

* Related…

* Travel nurses head to Illinois to aid hospitals amid coronavirus crisis. ‘It’s your duty to help.’

* North, southwest suburbs have lowest percentages of ICU hospital beds available

* Coronavirus: ‘Meal Train’ To La Grange Hospital

* Face Masks No Longer Issue At Elmhurst Hospital

* Downers Grove High Schools Donate Masks, Gloves To Hospital

* Three suburban hospitals hit licensed ICU capacity, but have space thanks to surge preps

* Amid increasing COVID-19 cases, some Naperville and Fox Valley hospitals’ intensive care units are filling but have not reached capacity

* Silver Cross Hospital Can Use Donations To Help Fight Covid-19

* Phase Two Complete At McCormick Place Overflow Hospital

* Galesburg Cottage Hospital Owner Files For Bankruptcy

* Rising from sick beds, COVID medics head back to front lines

* Oncologists, patients weigh treatment and coronavirus risk. ‘Cancer is a disease that does not wait.’

* Doctors, hospitals commend Pritzker


  1. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Apr 10, 20 @ 1:12 pm:

    Governor Pritzker deserves huge credit for leadership that Trump will attempt to claim for himself…absurdly.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 10, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    This is an important post, thanks Rich.

    The Covidiots continue to believe there’s this need to reopen the economy “quickly” and a misunderstanding of hospital numbers and ICU rooms and availability.

    It’s critically important when facilities, themselves, tell of these availability issues because we need to grasp that those in the front line will give those numbers the far deeper reality.

    I’m still waiting for Covidiots pointing to 90% empty hospitalS

    That’s my point.

    Trust in truth to those showing their numbers, don’t listen to those who begin “well, I hear…”… they hear their agenda, nothing more.

  3. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Apr 10, 20 @ 2:10 pm:

    It sounds like we are still skating past extreme triage. Everybody is still getting treatment.

    How long can we operate at this level? Staff will lose effectiveness and become sick. Supplies may improve but there are only so many trained people.

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