New program to help free up Nebraska hospital beds

Bryan Health reports 11 COVID-19 related deaths in Lincoln hospitals
Bryan Health reports 11 COVID-19 related deaths in Lincoln hospitals(KOLN)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 7:56 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - As a partial solution to a growing problem, the Department of Health and Human Services came up with a program to help make more hospital beds available.

The Hospital Decompression Program will be available in Lincoln, Omaha, and Grand Island.

The Lincoln facility is located near the Hy-Vee off of 40th and Old Cheney at Tabitha’s Seagren House. It will be staffed by Mission Health Communities to provide skilled nursing care.

Health officials said the need for beds has grown over the course of the the pandemic. As of Wednesday, there a745 COVID hospitalizations in Nebraska, taking up about 24% of occupied hospital beds.

“We have been challenged with complex patients taking up acute care beds at the hospital for a very long time,” said Lisa Vail, president of patient services at Bryan Health. “COVID has certainly exacerbated the challenges that we’ve had, and there are a variety of reasons why those patients are still here, but they are not medically necessitating acute care services anymore.”

Derek Vance, president of CHI Health St. Elizabeth, said the program will not only free up beds, but also help the hospital overcome staffing shortages.

“There’s a backup at the hospitals,” Vance said. “We end up holding onto these patients for days, weeks, beyond what they need to be in the hospital but they’re not well enough to go home. So, we hold onto them to make sure they continue to get care because we can’t place them outside of the hospital. While we, you know, try to find creative ways to get them placed.”

Vail said the program will help cycle patients out and into beds.

“Once those individuals have moved on to the other facility, we’re going to back-fill that bed immediately with another patient who needs that,” Vail said. “Whether it’s a patient whose been boarded or held in the emergency room for a long time because we haven’t had a bed readily available.”

The program will offer a total of 78 to 98 hospital decompression beds available in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island. At Lincoln’s facility, which opens February 1, 16 to 36 beds will be available.

“Being able to find a safe place for these patients that are currently taking up some of our acute care beds where they can continue to receive the care that they need is going to make a huge difference for us,” Vail said.

Opening dates in Omaha and Grand Island will come 10-14 days after contracts are finalized.

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