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Washington hospital officials look for state help to deal with Covid surge

Courtesy of Cascade Medical Center

Medical providers in Washington are sounding the alarm about the rapid rise in Covid hospitalization rates.

The state Medical Association on Thursday issued a letter, asking the state to declare a Covid crisis. It said that would allow the state to direct public resources to hospitals struggling to keep up with the demand for health care.

"As physicians, we know when we can do no more for our patients, and that time is now. We are effectivelyoperatingcrisis capacity strategies throughout our health care system. Our emergency departments are overrun, our hospitals are full. We are emotionally and physically exhausted. We are calling on the state of Washington to officiallydeclarethis statewide crisisand to move forward
immediately withresources tohelpoverwhelmed emergency departments and hospitals," the letter reads.

Cassie Sauer of the Washington State Hospital Association says nearly 1,400 people are sick in the state’s hospitals with Covid. That’s more than double the weekly average in December.

“There’s been a huge jump in people 25-to-49 years old coming to the emergency room looking for minor Covid care and there’s a federal law that requires us to screen and stabilize every patient who comes and it is causing a huge backlog in our ERs. It’s jeopardizing care for people with true emergencies and it is totally burning out our staff," she said.

She says this is happening at a time when the number of providers having to stay home to isolate with Covid is increasing.

The hospital association is asking the state to help in several ways. It’s asking to change state rules to allow family members who are not official guardians of patients to give permission to move those patients out of hospitals into care homes and rehab facilities.

It’s also asking for outside clinical help.

“We would like to see more Covid-positive units in nursing homes so patients can move out. More strike teams given to nursing homes. They can staff up and be ready to accept patients. Those are just a few of the pieces of help that we’re asking for," Sauer said.

Her organization is also asking the state to direct more money to long-term care centers so they can hire more people to care for more discharged patients.