Riverside County hospitals ‘in crisis’ due to coronavirus surge – Press-Enterprise

Riverside County hospitals “are in crisis caring for more COVID-19 patients than they can handle,” with patients being treated in conference rooms and the National Guard sending reinforcements to help overworked staff, according to a news release issued Tuesday, Dec. 29.

The release, issued on behalf of three separate hospital networks, urges the public to do its part so that the ongoing surge of coronavirus patients doesn’t further overwhelm the county’s health care system.

“Inland Empire hospitals are overflowing with patients and beds are at capacity or limited,” the release reads. “In addition, post-acute partners like skilled nursing facilities are at capacity; making patient transfers impossible.”

“The situation is dire and we are urging people to stay safe by staying home, wearing a mask and practice social distancing,” the release added. “We understand how tired everyone is of this pandemic and we are urging people to continue doing the safe thing for a few months longer until the vaccine is available to the general public.”

Kaiser Permanente’s Riverside Medical Center and Moreno Valley Medical Center are caring for a combined 221 COVID-19 patients and intensive care units “are above capacity,” according to the release and information from a Kaiser spokeswoman.

“To meet the demand, we have activated surge plans to convert other areas in the hospitals into ICU beds, which enables our teams to care for more critically ill patients than can be served in our ICUs. We are doing so by converting conference rooms, waiting rooms and other areas of the hospitals into patient care areas.”

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“(Non-emergency) surgeries are being postponed, and surgery staff and pre- and post- operative areas are now redeployed and operating as inpatient hospital units.”

Riverside Community Hospital has 214 COVID-19 patients, the most it’s seen since the pandemic began. A former cafeteria has been converted into patient care space, the release read, and while the California National Guard has deployed nine medical corps members to the hospital’s emergency department and six nurses to its ICU, “the hospital remains short staffed.”

This is the third major surge — the other two were in May and July — since the pandemic began, but by far the worst, Annette Greenwood, chief nursing officer at Riverside Community Hospital, said in a telephone interview. Before, the highest surge saw 80 COVID-19 patients at the hospital, she said; there are 230 now.

Even more coronavirus patients are expected after Christmas gatherings, and more on top of that following New Year’s celebrations. “If the predictions come true, the health care system is just going to be overwhelmed,” Greenwood said.



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