Struggling to find a COVID test? Health care clinics are swamped by the recent surge.

SPOKANE, Wash. — As the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic takes hold on our region, health care workers are stretched thinner than ever before. As a result, medical workers have had to change the way they work to keep up with the demand.

Employees at Sacred Heart Medical Center, and most health care facilities, are working harder than ever before. They’re stressed and they haven’t hit the crisis standards of care- yet. Health leaders in our area say it’s up to us to prevent our region from making it to that point.

Peg Currie, Chief Executive of Providence Health Sacred Heart, explained, “We’re asking you to help us help take care of others by masking and getting vaccinated.”

Health care leaders came together on Friday to call on the community to take action towards stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Francisco Velasquez, Spokane Regional Health Department Interim Health Officer, said, “Providers are tired, they’re stressed, they’re exhausted, they’re frankly overwhelmed with the responsibility they have. Despite that, they show up every day to work and provide the care we all need.”

There’s been a 300-percent increase in cases across the nation since this time last year and 95-percent are unvaccinated. This time around, kids account for 27-percent of those new cases.

Dr. Velasquez said, “This is the 5th time we’ve asked them to do the almost impossible in a period of over 21 months.”

As of September 10th, there were 150 patients at Sacred Heart Medical Center that are covid-positive. Peg Currie, explained, “That’s the most we’ve had. It’s not a record that we wanted to break but we have broken that.”With that, elective surgeries are still pushed to the back burner, with no information on when they’ll start back up.

At the end of the day, experts agree: Vaccinations are going to be our best path out of this pandemic. Local health clinics also have to change the way they work because of the current surge.

Deb Wiser, Chief Clinical Officer for CHAS Health, said, “All of these changes are a result of the impact this surge has had on our workforce and our ability to staff our clinical appropriately.”

There’s a good chance you, or someone you know, has tried to get a COVID test in the past few weeks, and it’s not easy. Wiser explained further, “We don’t have the staffing to provide those testing-only appointments and be the community backstop like we were before.”

Health care leaders are urging people to take advantage of at-home testing. It’s available to everyone. If you’re interested in getting an at-home test of your own, head over here.

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