Kootenai Health at ‘critical’ level of COVID hospitalizations

Kootenai Health

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — Kootenai Health is seeing a “critical” increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, spiking faster and more severely than last year due to the Delta variant.

Kootenai Health says “August of 2021 is looking a lot more like December of 2020” in reference to when hospital capacity was at 99 percent, threatening to force health officials to send patients to Washington.

PAST COVERAGE: Kootenai Health at 99 percent capacity, may have to transfer patients to hospitals in Seattle and Portland

“With the trending cases climbing, we are rapidly exhausting our staffing resources,” said Kootenai Health CEO Jon Ness. “The COVID-19 hospital census is rising at a faster rate than it did last winter. If this trend continues, in just five days we will surpass our previous COVID-19 high census from December 2020.”

Kootenai Health says they have the highest COVID inpatient volumes in Idaho, double that of the second-busiest hospital, St. Alphonsus in Boise. On Monday, Kootenai Health saw 68 COVID patients, 29 of whom needed critical care.

“We have postponed many elective procedures over the last several weeks due to hospital capacity,” said Kootenai Health Chief Nursing Officer Joan Simon. “We are now postponing all elective procedures that can wait for six to eight weeks so we can redeploy staff to care for hospitalized patients.”

The hospital has been near-maximum capacity since the spring due to community growth and delayed care from earlier in the pandemic. Paired with a surge in COVID infections and Simon has had to shift staff to help keep up with the influx of patients.

“We need help finding enough nursing staff to care for the increased volumes of critical care and acute care patients,” said Kootenai Health Chief Regional Operations Officer Jeremy Evans.