A new tool allows Plateau residents to check out how well their local hospital is faring with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s looking like St. Elizabeth is under some duress.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported Dec. 9 that the federal government recently released hospital-level data that includes how many inpatient beds are being taken by coronavirus patients.
Using that data, NPR and the University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project created this new tool, which shows that across King County, about 9 percent of hospital beds on average are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Over in Pierce County, 14 percent of beds on average are being used by coronavirus patients.
Of course, these patients are not spread evenly around their respective counties, and some hospitals are dealing with higher stress levels than others.
For example, St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw appears to have 12 percent of its inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. According to Lauren Sauer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University who studies hospital surge capacity, hospitals exceeding 10 percent of COVID patients “signals an increasing risk that the health care system could soon be overwhelmed,” she told NPR in a Nov. 10 article.
“We start to pay attention above 5 percent,” Sauer said. “Above that, 10 percent is where we think, ‘Perhaps we have to start enacting surge strategies and crisis standards of care in some places.’”
Luckily, it appears St. Elizabeth’s total capacity can handle that sort of stress right now, as only 53 percent of all its beds are occupied, and the hospital only sees a 7-day average of four COVID-19 patients per day as of Wednesday, Dec. 9.
But other hospitals in the area have tighter margins.
For example, Federal Way’s St. Francis Community Hospital is dealing with 15 percent of its beds being occupied by victims of the virus, and 77 percent of its beds are currently occupied overall. It’s 7-day average daily intake of COVID-19 patients is 18.
Renton’s Valley Medical Center is also dealing with 15 percent of its beds being used by COVID-19 patients, though overall, just 68 percent of its beds are being used. However, the hospital is seeing 51 COVID-19 patients per day on a 7-day average.
Hospitals in Pierce County appear to be under much more stress than those in King County.
One of Tacoma’s three hospitals, Tacoma General Allenmore Hospital, has 17 percent of its beds being used by COVID-19 patients, and the hospital has 86 percent of its beds occupied. It sees 62 virus patients daily, according to its 7-day average.
The Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup also has 17 percent of its beds taken by virus patients, and overall, 88 percent of its inpatient beds are occupied, with a daily intake of 51 virus patients, according to its 7-day average.
“Anything above 20 percent represents ‘extreme stress’ for the hospital, according to a framework developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington,” NPR reported on Dec. 9.
At 50 percent or above is when the hospital is overloaded.
“It means other services in that hospital are being delayed,”said Ali Mokdad, professor of healthmetric sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “The hospital becomes a nightmare.”
COVID UPDATE IN ENUMCLAW
As of Dec. 13, Enumclaw has seen a total of 342 COVID-19 cases, the vast majority having occurred in November and December, King County data shows.
There have been four additional hospitalizations since December began. This brings the total number of hospitalizations to 40.
There has also been one additional death, reported on Dec. 4. This brings Enumclaw’s total death count to 25.