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Dignity Health officials say ICU capacity is strained at local hospitals

Dignity Health officials say ICU capacity is strained at local hospitals
Posted at 6:33 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 21:33:29-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The San Joaquin Valley will remain under the latest stay-at-home order indefinitely due to a lack of ICU capacity.

"In the ICU's this remains our top issues. Not just in Southern California but also in the Central Valley," said Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday during a briefing.

According to state officials the order will remain in effect and can only be lifted when ICU projections are above or equal to 15%.

Two local hospital executives from Dignity Health said in a meeting Wednesday morning their hospitals are strained.

"Between last night and this morning, we have moved into steps 3 and 4 of our surge plans to add additional capacity specifically for COVID patients," said Ken Keller, President and CEO at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

Dignity Health also stating they have enough ventilators and the main issues are an increase in COVID patients, staffing and lack of bed capacity.

"All of the hospitals are basically full," said Keller.

On Wednesday Bruce Peters, President and CEO at Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield said Mercy Southwest has no ICU beds left.

"We have no ICU beds over there. So, were actually beginning to use our PACU - our post anesthesia care unit." said Peters.

Peters adds, "Mercy Southwest is the most severely impacted at this point. We're full out there completely. Actually we're over full - over capacity to the point that we are holding 29 inpatients in the Emergency Room at this point."

Currently Mercy Downtown has one ICU bed left out of 20. On Wednesday, tents went up at both Mercy Downtown and Mercy Southwest in an anticipation of a greater surge. Peters saying they don't need the tents yet but will have them ready just in case.

Mercy Hospitals also decided to stop elective surgeries at both campuses and are only doing emergent cases this week. Peters adding that elected surgeries will be decided on a weekly basis and doctors are working with patients to make it clear that patients should do not delay necessary care.

Keller stated that Memorial is still scheduling elected procedures but it's a day-by-day evaluation process.

"We are very very close to - I'll say spending surgery's - we haven't pulled that trigger yet but it may be something that we need to do next week," said Keller.

23ABC also checked in with another hospital group, Adventist Health, to see what their ICU capacity looks like. Adventist Health has three locations in Kern County and 50 licensed ICU beds. Currently Adventist has 31 COVID-19 patients in their ICU beds. Adventist told 23ABC they set their Bakersfield tent up back in November to use it during peak surge times to triage patients with respiratory symptoms. They also have tents in Tehachapi and Delano should they need to use them.

Kern Medical said that since the pandemic they've been at or near capacity. They're licensed for 24 ICU beds and currently only have a mixture of 20 COVID-19 and non COVID patients in their ICU beds. At this time their surge plan has not been activated.

If you would like to track the state ICU bed capacity numbers click here.