With the rise in coronavirus infections statewide, a couple hospitals in Mohave County have started taking on patients from other areas of the state as part of the statewide covid surge line.
Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley told the Board of Supervisors that both Havasu Regional Medical Center and Kingman Regional Medical Center have been accepting patients from other areas who have tested positive for coronavirus as healthcare facilities in other areas have started bumping up against their capacity. Burley said HRMC is still a bit strained in terms of available capacity in its intensive care unit, but said there were still two ICU beds available on Monday morning.
Burley said it is up to each hospital to determine whether or not they have the space and capability to take on a patient transfer as part of the surge line. She said she was not sure exactly how many patients have been transferred into the county as part of the surge line.
“Those hospitals make that decision when they are contacted as to whether or not they can accept that patient into their care,” Burley said. “As far as I know, that hasn’t impacted their care.”
District 1 Supervisor Gary Watson said he is concerned that the influx of transfer patients could adversely affect the care county residents are able to receive. Burley said the idea is that by helping other areas now, out-of-county hospitals will hopefully be able to help out when local facilities reach their limits.
“They are going to accept clients when they can, knowing that if we need that same resource we would reach out to those same hospitals and ask for reciprocation,” Burley said.
Local hospitals all have emergency plans in place that would allow them to expand their capacity considerably if needed – called the surge capacity. Havasu Regional Medical Center has a licensed bed total of 171, but has plans to add 79 additional beds if needed. HRMC’s surge plans also include an additional 21 ICU beds, bringing the total up to 37.
Supervisor Ron Gould noted that extra bed capacity is only as good as the hospital’s ability to provide staff to care for the extra patients, and asked how that would be accomplished.
“I know, in talking to Michael Patterson with Havasu Regional Medical Center, they would be looking to request staff from some of their other hospitals who are part of their network,” Burley said. “It might take two or three days for that to take place, and I am not sure about the other hospitals.”
Both HRMC and Valley View Hospital in Bullhead City are part of LifePoint Health, which has facilities in 24 states including every state in the West except for California.
If patients fill up the surge capacity at local hospitals and there are not facilities available in the surge line to take additional patients, Burley told the supervisors that patients may end up being transferred to some alternative care facilities.
“They have St. Luke’s down in the valley in Phoenix that they are working on,” Burley said. “They were also, at one point, looking at one in Tucson and one in Flagstaff. I don’t know where they are at in that stage, or if they have actually worked on ramping those up. But they had locations identified where they could bring in the equipment on a moment’s notice and set everything up.”
Such alternative care facilities would not have ICU capabilities, Burley said, but would rather serve as a step down facility for patients who require less care.