Kootenai Health at 99 percent capacity, may have to transfer patients to hospitals in Seattle and Portland

Kootenai Health (1)
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COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The influx of COVID-related hospitalizations means regional hospitals are nearing full capacity.

A release from Kootenai Health shows that as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, the hospital was caring for 31 COVID-19 inpatients, with 11 of those patients requiring critical care.

RELATED: North Idaho sees highest single day COVID-19 spike with 141 people testing positive

“As we have been working to accommodate patients, several regional hospitals have either declined to accept transfers due to their own capacity/staffing, or they have been highly selective about which patients they can accommodate,” the release said.

Health experts at Kootenai Health said because of this, they are looking to transfer patients to hospitals in Seattle and Portland.

Providence Health Care in Spokane said its patient census is high, but the hospital remains open and available for care. The latest report from the Spokane Regional Health District says 63 percent of beds are being used among the county’s hospital system with 3.7 percent being filled by COVID patients.

In addition to being short on patient rooms, Kootenai Health is also facing a shortage of staff.

“Because all communities are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and facing challenges similar to ours, it is more difficult to find and recruit nurses, including traveling nurses from other communities,” Kootenai Health said.

Cases are surging in North Idaho and the Spokane area. Kootenai County is seeing the highest rate of positivity since the start of the pandemic.

RELATED: Idaho’s coronavirus cases spike again, doctors urge action

The majority of Idaho remains in Stage 4 of the Idaho Rebounds plan, meaning the majority of facilities are open. Some cities have required a mask mandate, but it is largely unenforced. Due to the uptick in cases and rising hospitalization rates, health experts are begging the community to take efforts to help flatten the curve.

People should wear masks, wash their hands often, stay home when feeling sick, avoid public areas and avoid travel.

“As we enter the eighth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an overwhelming sense of ‘pandemic fatigue,’ which has exhausted us all. As we enter cold and flu season we anticipate the usual increase in illnesses and hospitalizations, which will affect already stretched resources,” health experts said. “On behalf of your community hospital, health district, emergency services, and surrounding critical access hospitals, please say stay vigilant.”