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San Diego County hospitals prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 20:03:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As COVID-19 cases spike across San Diego County, local hospitals are gearing up for the surge in new patients.

ABC 10News was told that providers at all of the hospitals that are part of Scripps Health are starting to see a greater volume of COVID-19 positive patients.

“We are definitely gearing up for what might be increasing cases,” said Scripps Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ghazala Sharieff.

“The rise in cases is what's concerning. We can handle the load but the fact [is] it's going quicker and quicker. We're up to 84 patients in-house at Scripps and 14 of those are in the Intensive Care Unit and then we have between a 12 and 17% rate of patients who have been vaccinated who are also being admitted,” she added.

The hospitals are bringing back negative pressure rooms to keep air contained and decrease the potential spread of infection.

“We want to make sure that we get ahead of the game here and just be ready for any patients that do have to use those rooms,” said Dr. Sharieff.

Some of the outdoor tents are being re-introduced and visitor policies are being re-considered.

Non-coronavirus patients have been allowed limited visitors but Dr. Sharieff said that the policy may change.

Then there's the issue of staffing. “Our biggest concern right now, as it is across the region, is staffing. There's a lot of people [who are] not only taking time off but people are tired,” she added.

She said that certain procedures may be limited if staffing continues to be problematic.

Surge planning is happening at other local hospitals.

Sharp Healthcare sent the following statement:

“Sharp HealthCare is reviewing all aspects of the care continuum, such as airborne isolation capacity, surge capacity and adequate staffing levels at all its facilities. This is addition to working toward implementation of safety measures issued by the California Department of Public Health.”

Kaiser Permanente sent the following statement:

“Kaiser Permanente continues to closely monitor the positivity rate in the communities we serve. At the emergence of COVID-19, we revised our pandemic response plans to make sure our facilities and staff were ready to safely and expertly treat a surge of patients with COVID-19.

We have retained expanded capabilities so we can quickly increase treatment space, staff, and supplies to manage smaller, localized hot spots or large surges across our system. KP is separating COVID-19 patients from other patients and procedures so all can safely receive the care they need. At the same time, we are enhancing our efforts to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging everyone to practice proven safety precautions, including wearing a mask where required, maintaining physical distance from others in public settings, frequent hand washing, and ongoing monitoring for any COVID-19 symptoms.

Kaiser Permanente is continuing to participate in local, state, and federal policy discussions and is working with public health agencies to help identify potential hot spots and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

ABC 10News reached out to Palomar Hospital, which housed the federal overflow facility, and was informed that all of the COVID-19 beds were put back into storage months ago and that they were hardly used during the height of the pandemic and officials are far away from any discussion about bringing the beds back.