Dignity Health hospital officials initiate surge plans

Posted at 11:38 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 14:40:03-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Hospital officials in the Dignity Health system say they've initiated their surge plans to handle the rise in COVID-19 patients. While it's not at critical levels yet, officials say the increase is extremely taxing and they need your help.

"All of the hospitals are basically full. We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of COVID patients," said Ken Keller, President and CEO of Memorial Hospital. "Between last night and this morning, we have moved into steps three and four of our surge plan to add additional capacity specifically for COVID patients.

Bruce Peters, President and CEO of Mercy Hospitals says they were holding 29 patients in the ER at one point due to a lack of ICU beds. As of this morning, that number is down to six.

"Today we are putting tents up at both campuses in anticipation of a greater surge," Peters said.

Officials say we still haven't seen the full impact of the Christmas and New Year's holidays. They urge residents to reassess their New Year's celebrations and don't share the air.

"We know we're going to start really seeing the Christmas effect starting next week, " said Terri Church, Chief Nursing Officer for Memorial Hospital. "You haven't really even seen Christmas week yet, so you top that on top of the 31st and the 1st celebrations with the new year and that can really be detrimental to our hospital and our community."

Mercy Hospital reporting about 300 employees have received the vaccine so far, with another 150 to 160 scheduled for next week.

Memorial reporting similar numbers saying they've also received the Moderna vaccine and are working out a schedule to disperse it.