Current COVID-19 Surge Threatens Larimer County Hospitals
According to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, officials from UCHealth and Banner Health said Tuesday (Nov. 24) that the ongoing surge in COVID-19 case rates is threatening to overwhelm hospitals in Larimer County.
Kevin Unger, the president and CEO of UCHealth’s Northern Colorado region, told county commissioners that the biggest concern of UCHealth providers is the current lack of critical care nurses and other essential staff; If the hospital nears or reaches its capacity, a much larger issue will rise.
“If we’re not able to staff it, that’s going to be our biggest issue,” he said. “We are seeing a 14-day doubling rate, which is concerning and will quickly put us underwater from a staffing and bed capacity perspective.”
The surge of COVID-19 cases across Colorado has caused several counties - including Larimer County - to tighten their restrictions on public gatherings and local businesses.
On Tuesday (Nov. 24), 105 people were hospitalized with the novel coronavirus - a record number since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, the Loveland Reporter Herald reported that 14-day average number of cases per 100,000 residents was about 933, compared to just 303 at the beginning of November.
The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in Larimer County stood at 12.1% as of Tuesday night.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Banner Health has laid off several healthcare workers and UCHealth went on a hiring freeze for the sake of implementing cost-saving measures.
“We could not afford to keep all of our employees, or we would not have made it,” Karsten said, noting that employees were given the chance to cross-train but that “not everyone is willing to make that personal sacrifice to care for these COVID patients.”
Unger said that he would've hired more critical care nurses during UCHealth's hiring freeze if he had known patient volumes would have returned to their current level of 80-85%.
In regards to recruiting critical care nurses, Unger said the task has become nearly impossible - and with the holiday season upon us, both hospitals are preparing for the worst.
“Thanksgiving is going to be rough on us,” Unger said.
For more information regarding COVID-19 in Larimer County, visit larimer.org/coronavirus.
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