Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Hospital exceeds max capacity

By William Kincaid
COLDWATER - As of Friday morning, Mercer County Community Hospital had exceeded its maximum capacity by 25% due to a surge in significant illnesses that is taking a toll on staff and resources.
Those illnesses are not just COVID-19. They also include respiratory syncytial virus and pneumonia, according to Mindy Kremer, Mercer Health Vice President of Development, Marketing and Communications.
"We are committed to caring for the community, no matter what it takes, however healthcare, as a whole, has never experienced such a high demand of patient care continually and simultaneously for such a long period of time," Kremer said in a news release.
Consequently, hospital officials are preparing to enter the next phase of surge planning. If need be, more than one patient would be placed in a room.
On any given day, both during normal times and the pandemic, the hospital maintains staff able to care for 28 patients, she said.
"As of today we have 35 patients, so we have to look at then moving to the next phase of a staffing plan which is part of our surge plan," she said. "Certainly we will continue to take care of the patients, but there may come a point in time where … there really truly are no more beds available or resources are limited."
There are no immediate plans to put back up the military-grade tents outside the emergency department. The tents went up in March 2020 as part of a multifaceted plan to best prepare for a potential surge. They were taken down in the summer of 2020.
"We're hopeful not," Kremer said. "Really the tent was an opportunity to extend our square footage really quickly."
Hospital officials are also closely evaluate staffing ratios, "as there are currently not an abundance of staffing reserves to meet continuously increasing need," Kremer said in a news release.
Staffing levels are adequate at this time but respiratory and COVID-19 patients all require continuous care and treatment, Kremer added.
"To further complicate the situation, many of the larger hospitals that we would routinely transfer patients to are facing similar struggles," Kremer said. "This is a complication that potentially impacts not just COVID patients but also patients with trauma, cardiac and other conditions."
Moreover, people are asked to not seek emergency services unless they are experiencing a true emergency as the emergency room remains extremely busy, according to Kremer.
"We have many options for non-emergency care, including multiple primary care offices, Doctors' Urgent Care and virtual care options," she said. "We always recommend that your first step be a phone call to your primary care provider or family doctor's office; they can access the level of care you need. We pleadingly request that all COVID testing be completed at our swab station at Mercer Health at North Main in Celina."
Kremer also addressed what she called an uptick of COVID-19 related hospitalizations. Early in the summer, the hospital saw about one COVID-19 patient on any given day. That number over the last couple of weeks has jumped to over five patients a day, she noted.
"And respiratory in general has gone up," she added.
Hospitalization periods for COVID-19 patients varies greatly based on a person's overall health status, vaccination status, age and other factors, she explained.
As of Friday morning, the hospital had six COVID-19 patients, none of whom required ventilators but several on oxygen therapy, which is to be expected, she said.
Kremer urges people who suspect they may have COVID-19 to call their physician and take necessary action as soon as possible, saying a prompt response to the coronavirus may keep them out of the hospital or result in quicker recovery.
Asked about the overall mindset of hospital staff, Kremer said workers have a warrior mentality, willing to move mountains to care for the community.
"Our staff, I cannot say enough, I'm so proud of what they've done to care for our community because they go above and beyond," she said.
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