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WA hospitals look to legislature for Covid patient relief

Courtesy of MultiCare

Washington hospitals are still full of patients, though fewer of them have Covid than during the peak of the pandemic last fall. Many of the people occupying beds are ready to be discharged, but have nowhere to go.

Hospitals are looking to the legislature for help.Taya Briley from the Washington State Hospital Association says most of the patients in her member’s facilities belong to the state, through the Department of Social and Health Services or as enrollees of the Medicaid program. She says her organization is asking the legislature to lean on state agencies.

“We’re asking them to assess patients faster for placement in long-term care settings and we’re asking them to set the payment rates for nursing home care higher so that nursing homes can pay the staff at levels that will help them retain the staff they need to care for these patients," Briley said. “We’re urging them to move faster and do things in a way that’s outside of their normal patterns.”

She says recent talks give her reason to be optimistic about that. But she’s a little worried that a well-meaning legislature may take action in other areas.

“We hope that the legislature is judicious and targeted with imposing new requirements on hospitals. New laws require staff time and precious resources to implement," she said.

Briley says hospitals are asking the legislature to provide more funding for long-term care, to encourage the opening of new facilities and the hiring of more staff members.

Meanwhile, Spokane’s hospitals aren’t yet seeing an increase in the number of patients with Covid’s omicron variant, at least not in the MultiCare system.

But Dr. Michael Myint from MultiCare in Tacoma says it may just be a matter of time. He says the number of Covid-positive patients in the system’s hospitals in south King and Pierce counties is inching back up again.

Myint told reporters at a Washington State Hospital Association briefing this week that medications used to treat other Covid variants aren’t as effective with omicron. He says MultiCare is working with the state to get access to the newest and best treatments.