Tri-City hospitals detail change in capacity

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 5:57 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - With a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, people are questioning how the hospitals are holding up. On Tuesday, CHI Health gave a run down of their plans as cases rise.

CEO Cliff Robertson told the media there is no need to panic right now about hospital capacity. Even with the metro area hospitals filling up, there are a lot of plans in place to handle the COVID patients.

He said Kearney and Grand Island are nowhere near the capacity they had during the peak in April and May. The Omaha and Lincoln hospitals are the ones seeing more patients than before. Robertson said the Omaha area hospitals are at about 95% staffed capacity. This raises the concern of if transfers of central Nebraska patients to other hospitals in the metro will be available.

“Capacity is literally something that we manage all the time. It’s what we’ve done for the last couple of decades as we’ve tried to become more and more efficient and it moves,” Robertson said. “So at eight o’clock in the morning any given hospital might be...full but that’s because there’s 15 or 20 people waiting to be discharged that will go home.”

Robertson said across the hospital system they have a transfer center that is tasked with finding the best location for a patient.

“We have a lot of excess physical capacity,” Robertson said. “So if you just look at our hospitals we have large areas that have been built out but aren’t currently used because we haven’t had demand. The challenge is staff and how do you staff this extra capacity.”

Some of the hospitals have floors or wings that can be changed into COVID units if they need to. He mentioned there are less people being sent to the ICU now that there are more treatments available to patients and people are catching the virus sooner before they become critically ill.

Robertson also said they are watching the capacity at each of their hospitals closely before they make changes to procedures and transfers. There are no talks of halting elective procedures as of now.

“There was significant risk we put our communities at, patients in our communities, by delaying care that they otherwise needed,” Robertson said. “In fact, I actually push back on the word elective surgeries and quite frankly there are very few things that we do that are truly elective.”

They can’t predict what their case numbers will be in the coming weeks but they urge people to try and reduce the spread of the virus to prevent hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Tri-City Hospital statistics (10/13/20):

CHI Health St. Francis - Grand Island

-12 COVID-19 patients, 0 on ventilators

CHI Health Good Samaritan - Kearney

-11 COVID-19 patients, 2 on ventilators

Mary Lanning - Hastings

-7 COVID-19 patients in ICU, 2 on ventilators

-10 total ICU beds available

Kearney Regional Medical Center

-3 COVID-19 patients in ICU, 2 on ventilators

-10 total ICU beds, 15 total available ventilators

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