Image via Saint Agnes Medical Center Facebook page
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Chiefs of Medicine for two Fresno County hospitals reported the current situations for their facilities as a spike in Covid-19 cases has hampered efforts at reopening in the area.
According to Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, there were nearly 5,300 Covid-19 cases as of July 1 with 75 registered deaths. Meanwhile, the number of patients ever hospitalized was at 376.
At an online press briefing held on Thursday, the head medical officers for Community Medical Centers and Saint Agnes Medical Center both acknowledged that the recent spike necessitated them to think outside the box to solve the problem, with preparations made early on now being used in the effort.
In the case of Community Regional Medical Center, Dr. Jeff Thomas noted that while it previously seemed like the virus had passed them over, the last two weeks had hit them “right between the eyeballs,” resulting in the need for some reorganization and retooling. Currently, they have a maximum capacity of 1,000 beds, but this does not mean every space can support a ventilator or pediatric patient.
“Even with Covid, there are certain places where we have to isolate the Covid patients,” Thomas said. “It is a numbers game that depends on how people are coming through the front door and how many employees and staff you have available, and how much equipment you have available to support those patients.”
Dr. Walter Egerton, chief medical officer at Saint Agnes, said they developed a designated respiratory unit to deal with a surge in Covid patients. Since the start of what he deemed “second surge,” they’ve opened a secondary unit. Egerton stated that they’d noticed an increase in case counts and hospitalized patients, and have aggressively used both of them. A special ambulatory site at their urgent care center in Northwest Fresno is also open to patients with suspected infections.
So far, however, Saint Agnes has been able to hold on.
“I think now it’s a delicate balance between how you do things with regards to addressing normal operations and still manage the needs around safety and efficacy of care for those patients who require it being infected with Covid-19,” Egerton said.
In the five days since this presentation was made, three more deaths have occurred in Fresno County, while the number of total cases jumped to 6,599. Four hundred people have been hospitalized since the first reported case.