On Monday Sierra View Medical Center was officially at 98 percent capacity. On Wednesday the hospital technically exceeded its capacity and was at 102 percent capacity.
A large reason for that is the high number of COVID-19 patients. And a large reason for Sierra View being strained up to its limit is a high number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
Capacity is determined by the number of acute hospital beds that the hospital has. As of Wednesday Sierra View had more patients than the 101 beds available, putting it at 102 percent capacity.
As of Wednesday, about 45 percent of the admitted patients at Sierra View were COVID positive or COVID suspected patients. That number has continued to grow this week.
On Monday, Sierra View reported there were 30 COVID-positive patients and six patients suspected of having COVID. On Tuesday there were 32 COVID-positive patients and nine patients suspected of having COVID. On Wednesday there were 33 COVID-positive patients and 13 patients suspected of COVID.
The number of COVID patients in the ICU has also increased this week from three on Monday to four on Tuesday. On Wednesday six of Sierra View's 10 ICU beds were occupied by COVID patients.
Normally at this time of year Sierra View operates at 65 percent capacity. “Operating at about 100 percent capacity has put a high strain on the hospital,” Sierra View's administration stated.
The administration also noted there's a regional and national shortage of nursing as a significant number of nurses regionally and nationally decided to leave after the 2020-2021 winter surge.
To deal with the influx of patients Sierra View has brought in supplemental staff from travel nurse agencies. The state has also provided a few critical care registered nurses and a licensed vocational nurse.
But Sierra View's administration also stated it can only depend on travel nurse agencies so much. “Travel nurse supplemental staffing has not been an effective alternative plan with the large numbers needed in Southern States and other options for travel nurses to serve,” the administration stated.
In the last month much like hospitals had to do during the winter surge, Sierra View has again begun implementing its crisis care plans. The administration said the hospital is in its fourth week of internal disaster operations in which the sickest and the most injured in the emergency department are treated first.
“Physicians, nurses, and support staff are exhausted from a fourth wave of the COVID pandemic that is directly affecting our community,” the administration stated. “Physicians, staff, and support staff are here to take care of the community and doing their best with limited and finite resources.”
Tulare County Health and Human Services reported on Wednesday there were 175 COVID hospitalizations in the county, 164 COVID-positive and 11 suspected of having COVID. In its data the state reported on Wednesday there were 176 hospitalizations and 10 ICU beds available in the county.
During the last week, four more deaths were reported after 10 deaths were reported the previous week. The state reported on Wednesday Tulare County has had 870 deaths due to COVID-19. As of Tuesday Sierra View reported it has had 174 deaths due to COVID-19.
The state's projection for deaths in Tulare County continues to be ominous as its project the county to have 1,057 deaths by October 1.
The case rate continues to climb as the county health department reported on Wednesday Tulare County's case rate was 42.3 per 100,000. The positive test rate in Tulare county has reached 10.5 percent based on the county health department's data and 10.7 percent based on state data.
Tulare County's R number, which measures the rate of spread of the virus, remains in the “likely increasing” category at 1.13. That means the rate of spread of the virus is expected to increase at a higher level than its current rate.
The number of active cases in Tulare County has increased to 3,041 as of Wednesday. As of Wednesday the health department reported since March 11, 2020 there has been 55,290 cases in Tulare County. That represents more than 11.3 percent of Tulare County's population.