Heidi Hunt is tested for COVID-19 at a Utah National Guard Joint Task Force 97 mobile testing site in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. The Guard has approximately 275 service members mapping support for contact tracing, mobile testing, facility assessment and training, and warehouse operations. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Intermountain implements plan ‘we hoped to never have to use’
SALT LAKE CITY — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge and hospitals reach capacity throughout Utah, Intermountain Healthcare has hired additional help and welcomed others volunteering from New York City.
“In the last few weeks, we’ve had to use part of the plan we hoped to never have to use,” Dr. Katie Thomas, associate medical director at Intermountain Medical Center, said Thursday. The health system is already transferring patients to where there is space and staff available.
“There are limits, as we know, to what our current staff can handle,” Thomas said. “Beds don’t take care of people, people do. Staffing has been a struggle.”
Intermountain has hired 190 traveling nurses to assist staff while patient numbers and needs increase. Another 31 nurses are returning the favor of Intermountain staff who went to New York when the need was greatest there and hospitals couldn’t handle the surges of COVID-19 patients in April.
“Our nurses can relate to the stress and fear of an impending COVID surge,” said Natalie Torrance, a nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which is a nonprofit health system similar to Intermountain.
Lasting friendships and collaborations forged between the two systems during this ongoing pandemic is a “silver lining,” she said, adding that the “support of your community here is absolutely vital.”
“Please do what we know is working. Wear your mask, wash your hands, stay socially distanced,” Hallie Rector, a nurse facilitator at LDS Hospital, said Thursday. “I know that with the holidays, we want to be around our friends and families at this time … but we just really need to think about how this is impacting everyone.”
She added, “Take the moment to do the right thing and protect the caregiver and your family.”
Rector said the arrival of new nurses has “lifted our spirits,” and while the demand is still more than what is ideal, she said, “We will take care of our patients.”
“A battle is easier won together,” said Wen Hui Xiao, another nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital who is in Utah to assist with the growing number of COVID-19 patients. She said the experience has given her “a new perspective and refreshed sense of passion for my job.”
“It’s a whole new experience for everybody,” Xiao said. “They’re scared. They’re anxious and they don’t understand what’s going on. I was scared, too, because we haven’t ever seen anything like this, to this acuity and this capacity.”
There are 446 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized throughout Utah, with 182 patients in intensive care units fighting the disease.
COVID-19 is being treated at every hospital in the state, with ICUs fast reaching their breaking point. Health systems are opening new beds …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News