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Confluence Health Reports Patient Room Shortage

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Confluence Health
Confluence Health Reports Patient Room Shortage

Wenatchee, WA –Confluence Health continues preparations to implement their surge plans due to an exceedingly high number of patients in the hospital. Surge plans are created for serious situations when hospitals surpass their maximum capacity of patients. These plans are put in place to ensure the ability to provide adequate medical care during extreme cases when the hospital’s infrastructure is pushed beyond normal operations.

“Throughout January, there have been many mornings where we have more patients than we can easily manage. Not only do we have a high number of patients battling COVID, we also have many patients with non-COVID illnesses that require hospitalization. This combination of factors is not only an issue for us but is a challenge on a statewide and national level as well,” reported Dr. Jason Lake, Chief Medical Officer for Confluence Health. “Our regional hospital systems were never built to support so many people at once. In normal times we would work with our statewide hospital partners to coordinate and transfer patients, but right now, all hospital systems are facing the same challenges. During this surge, they are often unable to accept additional patients,” commented Dr. Lake.

“Ensuring we can care for our patients has been a challenge throughout the pandemic, commented Chief Operations Officer, Glenn Adams. “There is a domino effect — we have patients that no longer require hospital care that need to get into a skilled nursing facility, but many facilities do not have room. These patients often stay in the hospital for days while they wait for a facility to accept them. Meanwhile, we have patients who come to the emergency department who need to be admitted, but there are no rooms available. On top of this, we have regional hospitals that need us to accept a critical patient because they are in the same situation,” reported Adams.

Serving a regional area of over 12,000 square miles comes with geographical challenges in normal times. The addition of Confluence Health’s pandemic response and partnership with healthcare organizations outside of our region adds additional stress to an already maxed out infrastructure. In December 2021 when the hospital was not as crowded, Confluence Health was able to accept 250 incoming transfers from regional partners and denied 125 patients. From January 1, 2022, through the night of January 23, 2022, Confluence Health reported they had accepted 173 incoming transfers and had to deny 127 transfers. Confluence Health announced today that their normal capacity in the ICU is 20 patients and they have had to make accommodations to care for 23 critical patients.

Surge plans are a series of contingency strategies that address things like what to do when you run out of rooms and staff. Confluence Health will continue to work with partnering healthcare organizations to transfer patients when possible and have started creating double occupancy patient rooms to increase capacity.