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Samaritan sees drop in COVID-19 patients, handles staffing

by EMILY THORNTON
Assistant Managing Editor | October 8, 2021 1:03 AM

The number of COVID-19 patients at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake has dropped about a couple of handfuls — 21 to 12 — since last week, but officials caution people to continue taking care of themselves.

“While our in-house COVID count seems to be steadily decreasing, we continue to see very ill patients needing hospitalization, further pushing us to advocate to our community members — do not delay routine care; it is safe and your medical clinics and staff are ready to help and see you!,” wrote Gretchen Youngren, Samaritan’s executive director of development & communications, in a message to the Herald.

There were 12 COVID-19 patients at Samaritan Thursday, six of whom were in the intensive care unit, Youngren wrote. On Wednesday, one patient was vaccinated, but hospitalized, and 10 of the 12 ICU beds were in use, according to the hospital’s COVID-19 Updates webpage.

For comparison, there were 21 COVID-19 hospital patients Sept. 30, Youngren said last week, eight of whom were in the intensive care unit. Two of those eight were on ventilators and two were vaccinated. All of the ICU’s 12 beds were occupied.

Six of the 12 patients Thursday were in the medical-surgical unit, Youngren wrote. One patient was vaccinated, 18 of the unit’s 25 beds were in use, according to the webpage on Wednesday, and one COVID-19 patient was in the emergency department.

Comparatively, 10 of the 21 patients Sept. 30 were in the medical surgical unit, two of whom were vaccinated. Twenty-three of the 25 medical surgical unit’s beds were in use with various patients. And, three of the 21 patients were in the emergency department.

The hospital continues to take on staffing challenges while caring for patients.

“We continue to maintain adequate staffing and have not received any additional outside support from the state or DoD (Department of Defense) at this time,” Youngren wrote.

Gov. Jay Inslee asked for help from DoD medical personnel Sept. 20 by sending a letter to Jeff Zients, federal COVID-19 response coordinator.

“I have directed state agencies to request assistance from the federal government to provide Washington State with medical staff resources to help meet staffing needs in hospitals and in long-term care facilities,” the letter reads in part. “To date, the Washington State Department of Health has requested 1,200 clinical and non-clinical staff through the General Services Administration contracting process offered through FEMA.”

While Samaritan and other hospitals deal with COVID-19, flu season is approaching. The numbers of COVID-19 patients have been announced online, but Youngren said the hospital doesn’t intend to post numbers of flu patients.

“However, should we see a surge in flu admissions or another combination surge of COVID and flu patients, we may release the information for community awareness,” she wrote.

“Prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic, we’ve never been in a situation where we have one disease or diagnosis taking up a significant portion of our hospital beds,” she added. “Additionally, we’ve also never been in a situation where the hospital has reached capacity due to influenza patients needing hospitalization, and a key contributing factor to this is the effectiveness of the annual flu vaccine — and we highly encourage local residents to get on top of their COVID vaccine or booster dose, if eligible.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker reported Grant County had 475 cases as of Thursday within the previous seven days. The site also said it was a 16% drop within the last week as of Wednesday. However, there were 11 deaths in the last seven days.

Meanwhile, the CDC said Adams County had 78 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday within the last seven days. It was a 17% drop as of Wednesday within the last seven days. There were no deaths in the last week.