‘I didn’t think that it would be me sitting in this bed;’ As crisis standards of care continue, Kootenai Health prepares for pediatric surge

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — It’s been more than a week since Kootenai Health started working under crisis standards of care.

On Wednesday, there were around 108 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s less than when the crisis standards of care were first announced.

“This week we were able to do some of these urgent surgeries and we’re still trying to do those with the more resources that we have, so that, I think has improved,” said Dr. Robert Scoggins, chief of staff and medical director for Kootenai Health.

Dr. Scoggins said the monoclonal antibody treatments now in North Idaho and sending patients with low acuities home with oxygen have helped lower hospitalizations.

They currently have 111 federal healthcare workers helping with the staffing crisis. However, Dr. Scoggins explains the fight is far from over.

“I think that we haven’t seen the effects of the county fair, of the state fair that we had and school starting,” he said. “We are not seeing very many pediatric patients at this point, but we know that usually, it’s a week or two before we begin to see a surge in patients in different populations.”

Kootenai Health is not a pediatric hospital, but it is making room for pediatric patients since it believes regional pediatric ICU capabilities will be overwhelmed. Several doctors have successfully completed pediatric courses to take care of the predicted surge.

Right now, the hospital can take in 8-12 pediatric COVID-19 patients.

For Emily Farness, a nurse at Kootenai Health, the Delta variant has been different than the first coronavirus wave.

“Something that’s not normal seeing with this Delta wave is seeing younger and otherwise healthier patients,” Farness said.  “It’s strange to see patients that are our peers, they could be our friends and they’re working jobs similar to ours and just very normal people in our community.”

The hardest part, for her, is what they say when they’re receiving care for the coronavirus.

“It’s hard to hear them say if they’re able to talk and not on a ventilator, a lot of them say I didn’t think that it would be me sitting in this bed. I thought it was either all political, or all a hoax,” she said.

Currently, Kootenai Health is admitting 10 to 15 patients with the coronavirus a day and is averaging 30 patients in the critical care unit a day. Many of them are unvaccinated.

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