Covid's Putting Pressure On Spokane Hospitals, But Not Yet To A Breaking Point

Oct 28, 2020

MultiCare pulmonologist Ben Arthurs says his hospitals are seeing more Covid patients during the last few weeks, but it's not to a crisis point yet.
Credit Courtesy of MultiCare

The latest coronavirus surge in Spokane and north Idaho continues at or near the intensity seen during the region’s mid-summer Covid peak.

Health officials worry that, unless the momentum is reversed, the health system in the Inland Northwest could be overwhelmed. At the moment, they say, Spokane is managing.

Dr. Ben Arthurs is a Spokane pulmonologist who sees Covid patients every day. He works in several of MultiCare’s facilities, including Deaconess and Valley hospitals.

“There’s been a pretty rapid escalation in cases in the hospital over the last two weeks. I’m anticipating that we’re going to meet and surplus our prior census pretty quickly," Arthurs said.

Especially if the hospitals see days like Monday and Wednesday. On Monday, the health district reported nine new hospitalizations because of the coronavirus. And on Wednesday morning, county Health Officer Bob Lutz told reporters another 10 people had been admitted during the last 24 hours. He says 58 Covid patients are receiving care in Spokane’s hospitals, 16 of them are in the ICU. As of Wednesday afternoon, another 37 were in north Idaho hospitals.

Ben Arthurs says his hospitals are better prepared for this surge, in terms of operational plans, staffing, experience and adequate personal protective equipment. And for now, he says, they’re still able to take care of all of the other patients who don’t have Covid.

“Even with some expansion of the Covid population I still anticipate we’re going to have room for awhile to do that. But the unforeseen is really how quickly these severe cases escalate," he said.

Arthurs says one of his hospitals’ main challenges will be to keep its people healthy enough through the winter season so that it doesn’t suffer from staffing shortages. Right now, he says, it’s hard to find outside nursing help on the employment market.