healthcare

Rebecca White/SPR

Nurses in hospital systems across the country are facing the most stressful time in their careers after treating COVID-19 patients for more than a year. Many are leaving the field, and those who plan to stay are urging people to take basic health precautions.

Spokane Public Radio spoke to several healthcare workers, including two on the front lines in Spokane.

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

Washington State employees and contractors will soon be at a crossroad: get the coronavirus vaccine or lose their jobs.

That mandate was issued by Governor Jay Inslee during a surge in hospitalizations fueled by the Delta variant, and a slowdown in vaccinations.

Monday, Oct. 4 was the last day to get the vaccine in time to meet the governor’s Oct. 18 deadline, if a worker gets the Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose shot.

TVW

Visiting a Spokane hospital today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he was committed to enforcing a mandate that requires state workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The mandate has generated a flood of exemption requests, has drawn protest and is being challenged in court. It’s also led to concerns that some state employees and healthcare workers will walk instead of getting a shot. Inslee said he believes when most people get down to the wire, they will choose the vaccine.

Spokane Regional Health District

Hospitals in Spokane County are delaying all but emergency care due to the massive influx of COVID-19 patients.

Delays in surgeries and a lack of preventative care during the pandemic could impact the community’s long-term health.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

An anti-abortion church known for holding loud church services outside of Spokane’s Planned Parenthood Clinic will no longer be allowed to protest outside the clinic’s doors after a judge granted a permanent injunction against the group.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho argued the group’s noise level was violating a state statute barring people from interfering with or disrupting care at a healthcare facility, according to a news release from the healthcare non-profit. On Wednesday, a judge agreed.

Rebecca White

Healthcare providers say if COVID numbers don’t improve, Eastern Washington could soon follow North Idaho into crisis standard of care.

Rebecca White

Inland Northwest healthcare providers are expecting a new surge of cases in the weeks following holiday gatherings on Labor Day weekend.

Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez said regional hospital capacity is already stretched at about 90%, and the community is contending with the more infectious Delta Variant.

Courtesy of the Northeast Tri-County Health District

Hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases in eastern Washington and north Idaho are soaring – and healthcare providers fear that if this trend continues, there will soon be a shortage of both beds and staff to treat dangerously ill patients from both rural and urban communities.

Northeast Tri County Health Officer Sam Artzis said the counties he serves, Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille, have not only approached the high tide mark from last December for hospitalization and new cases.

Rebecca White/SPR

Healthcare providers are raising the alarm as the Inland Northwest hits its highest hospitalization level since the start of the pandemic.

Rebecca White/SPR

As COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizing continue to soar, Spokane’s top health official is again urging people to get vaccinated.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County had 165 people in the hospital Tuesday and 347 new cases. Spokane County has not seen daily case counts this high since last winter. 

In a briefing Wednesday, Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez said the region’s hospitals are strained.

Quazoo.com

Fairchild Air Force Base is preparing for a Department of Defense mandate requiring service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

TVW

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday that Washington State is mandating vaccination for state employees and contractors.

The requirement for state workers to get vaccinations comes as a spike in new COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant hits the state, increasing the burden on hospitals.

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane Regional Health District is reporting that 92.7% of the region’s ICU beds are full.

About 7.8% of those ICU beds are confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to an email from the health district Wednesday.

That comes the same day the district reported more than 270 new cases of COVID-19 and 85 hospitalizations.

Rebecca White/SPR

The Center for Disease Control is now recommending everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks while indoors due to an increase in infections driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Dr. Francisco Velazquez, the Spokane Regional Health District’s interim health officer, said the Delta, as well as other variants, have been detected in Spokane County.

TVW

A college student in Spokane is one of a handful of vaccinated people across the state to win a $250,000 prize for getting a shot.

In a news conference Thursday, the winner, only identified by the Governor’s Office as Marissa P, addressed the public alongside Governor Jay Inslee.

“Well like he said, my names Marissa, I’m from Spokane, I’m pre-nursing and I’m so honored to be here, I feel so blessed to be here. I just want to say stay healthy, stay safe and go get vaccinated.”

Vaccine Clinics Available at Spokane Fire Stations

Jun 2, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane residents can now get vaccinated at fire stations in their own neighbohoods. 

At the first vaccine clinic at a fire staion in northeast Spokane, Mayor Nadine Woodward said she hopes bringing shots directly to the communiy will make getting vaccinated easier, and bring Spokane one step closer to re-opening.

"We want to continue to push the importance of vaccines in our community. Spokane County is at 50% initial vaccination. We need to get to that 70% statewide in order to fully open June 30."

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Washington Board of Health says it will hold a hearing as it decides whether to take action after the removal of former Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer Bob Lutz.

Spokane Regional Health District

A preliminary Washington Board of Health investigation released Tuesday found that Spokane Regional Health District Administrator Amelia Clark likely violated state law when she removed Dr. Bob Lutz from his role as health officer.

TVW

As Washington State braces for a fourth wave of coronavirus and spread from a more infectious variant, Governor Jay Inslee is urging residents to continue to follow health rules, and take the vaccine.

Inslee noted that half of virus cases now are more infectious variants of COVID-19.

“This is bad news for us because these are more transmittable. Each person with the same disease can transmit it more easily. The science is highly suggestive that this is a significant reason the virus is now increasing in our state.”

Washington State Department of Health

Several government and private providers in the Northwest have paused use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine effective immediately after six women who had received the vaccine developed blood clots.

According to a Washington state Department of Health news release, the vaccine will be on hold until the state receives recommendations from the FDA and CDC.

Spokane County Hires New Medical Examiner

Apr 12, 2021
Courtesy of Spokane County

Spokane County has hired Dr. Veena Singh as the new Chief Medical Examiner.

The medical examiner’s office does autopsies and forensic investigations into the causes of people’s death in Spokane and the surrounding counties.

Dr. Singh most recently served as a medical examiner for Anoka County, Minnesota and previously has worked in New Mexico and Arizona.

She is also Board Certified in Forensic, Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and is originally from Portland.

Washington State Governor's Office

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday that Whitman, Cowlitz, and Pierce counties have failed to meet the state’s re-opening metrics and will face more restrictions.

Those counties will go from Phase 3 of the governor’s re-opening plan to Phase 2, which means businesses must operate at reduced capacity and both indoor, and outdoor gatherings must be smaller.

Rebecca White/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Friday that counties now must fail in two metrics to be moved back a phase in their reopening. The governor says the state won't act unless counties have both a high hospitalization and case rate.

Previously, a county could be forced to regress to more restrictions if they had more than 200 cases per 100,000 people. Now they also must have more than five hospitalizations per 100,000 cases for the state to regress a county to a more restrictive phase.

Rebecca White/SPR

Health officials are concerned about rising COVID-19 cases, especially in younger people, that could put the county of compliance with the governor’s re-opening metrics.

To stay in Phase 3 of the governor’s re-opening plan, Spokane County must have less than 200 cases per 100,000 people. As of Wednesday, the county had 183 cases per 100,000. Spokane County Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said that was concerning.

Courtesy of CHAS Health

CHAS Health is opening up a new mass vaccination clinic for anyone eligible to get a vaccine Wednesday at the Spokane Community College Campus.

Vaccinations are only available to those who qualify under the current state guidelines, which is people over the age of 60, people over 16 with some medical conditions. People who work in some fields such as agriculture or healthcare are also eligible now. Starting April 15, anyone over 16 will be able to get a vaccine there.

Courtesy of CHAS Health

A small percentage of people who’ve been vaccinated in Washington and Idaho have become infected with COVID-19. Health officials say that’s not a sign the vaccine doesn’t work, or that people should cast aside public health guidelines.

Rebecca White/SPR

Many living in long-term care facilities have spent the last year in isolation. But as more and more people are vaccinated, families can reconnect and see their loved ones in person.

After a year of missed holidays and milestones, Nannette Mogensen is celebrating her 84th birthday with her family.

Mogensen is now fully vaccinated and lives in Touchmark, a senior living facility on Spokane’s South Hill.  On Sunday, her three children and two of her granddaughters surprised her.

“Happy Birthday, mother, I love you,” says Shelly Christensen, Mogensen’s daughter.  

Rebecca White/SPR

On Wednesday many high-risk workers, people who have medical conditions or are pregnant became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a Spokane Regional Health District briefing Wednesday, Dr. Mark Schemmel, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, urged everyone eligible, especially those who are pregnant, to contact a doctor and get a vaccine. 

Flikr Commons

Washington's Covid vaccinations are getting back on track after harsh winter weather nationwide slowed down shipments last week.

Many scheduled immunizations had to be canceled, but this week picked up pace again. Department of Health officials say one day this week, a record 5,000 doses were administered at the mass vaccination sites.

Flikr Commons

Washington state health officials say they are working to make sure distribution of the Covid vaccine is equitable. That means it’s distributed in the same proportion to minority groups as to the population as a whole.

Recently, the head of the Washington Department of Health, Umair Shah, said further analysis of numbers of those vaccinated shows better progress toward that goal than initially thought.

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