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Coordination Center Keeps Hospital Patient Loads Balanced During Busy Times

Courtesy of Columbia County Health System

Even though most hospitals in Washington are full, hospital officials don’t anticipate a situation where they’ll need to transfer Covid patients to other states.
Healthcare providers are working together to keep from being overwhelmed.It’s been a busy week for Shane McGuire and the medical team at Dayton General Hospital in southeastern Washington.  
“Normally we have five ERs, average, in a day. We float staff between our med surge floor and ER. Yesterday we had 13 ERs," he said.
This in a town of 2,500 people. McGuire is the CEO for the Columbia County Health System. He spoke during a Washington State Hospital Association briefing on Thursday.
When Dayton General gets hit with a wave of patients with serious health problems, McGuire’s team takes care of their immediate needs and looks for a place where they can receive specialty care.
“We do not have surgical intervention. We do not have cardiac abilities. We don’t have neurology. Most of the support we get is remote. We try to stabilize and ship," he said.
Since most facilities in Washington are full or nearly full, McGuire says it’s getting harder to find other facilities that will take his patients. That’s when he calls Mark Taylor, the director of the Washington Medical Coordination Center at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.
“We are available 24/7 to assist them in finding a facility that will have that capability in terms of the services available and has that capacity to admit that patient and support the overall patient care that they need," he said.
Taylor’s job is to facilitate the movement of patients between hospitals in Washington. The goal is to keep facilities, such as Dayton General, from being overwhelmed. He says that coordination has helped keep Washington patients in Washington at a time when hospitals in other states have shipped patients across borders.
“I have to say Mark and his folks have been essential. We’re one of the ones that have called his center quite frequently," McGuire said.
Mark Taylor says the coordination center provides a valuable service at a time when both Covid and non-Covid case levels are at a particularly high level.