Surge in COVID-19 cases strain local hospitals, cause policy changes

SPOKANE, Wash.– Inland Northwest hospitals are seeing a high number of COVID-19 patients and it’s pushing them to the limit.

With omicron being highly contagious, it’s impacting health care on all levels.

MultiCare said its hospitals are seeing higher levels of patients compared to any other time in the pandemic. Like many other industries faced with staffing shortages, MultiCare said it’s not immune.

MultiCare said it made adjustments to its return to work policy when it comes to staff who tested positive for COVID. A spokesperson said they are following guidance from the CDC and the Department of Health.

Employees are not obligated to return to work within a specific time frame after a positive result, the health care provider said.

Multicare said the health of their employees is a top priority. If they don’t feel well enough to work they are required to stay at home.

Regardless of illness, employees need to stay home until they are fever free for 24 hours without having to take medication. If their symptoms get better and they are feeling well, they can return to work.

Joey Brooks got a firsthand look at the staffing shortages at MultiCare. He waited outside the hospital as his daughter received care for kidney problems inside.

“My daughter was admitted last night at the emergency room, and they took a couple of hours to get upstairs. They’re shortly understaffed–really bad,” he said.

COVID policies mean only one visitor is allowed a day. Brooks said it’s is frustrating, but he knows its for the best.

“It is, but we got to do what we got to do to keep everybody safe. So, my daughter and her baby included, you know so she’s currently 20 weeks pregnant, so it’s something. I really admired the fact that they took good care of her regardless COVID or not COVID, just genuinely good people,” he said.

RELATED: Providence restricts visitor access due to omicron surge

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center has also made changes to its policies. It rolled back its visitor policy with the exception of children, maternity, and end of life patients.

The National Guard is also set to arrive there on Friday. The team of ten will be serving in non-clinical roles in the emergency department.

Their deployment is a part of a statewide effort to help hospitals struggling with the current surge of covid cases that’s causing staffing shortages.

RELATED: ‘We are grateful’: Providence relieved National Guard will come to help