Doctor explains hospital capacity at Magic Valley hospital

Staff picking up COVID-19 in the community impacts the hospital’s staffing abilities
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 3:29 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - As numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to spike, the amount of people in hospitals beds with the coronavirus is concerning to many.

Putting you first, KMVT talked with Dr. Joshua Kern, the vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Magic Valley, Jerome and Wood River, to break down the numbers and explains the numbers are more complex than one might think.

“In St. Luke’s Magic Valley we have 42 (COVID-19 patients), I think we have something like 80 total in the St. Luke’s footprint," Kern said. "As of Tuesday morning about a third of our patients are coronavirus.”

While that may not seem too bad compared to larger cities and larger hospitals, the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting St. Luke’s Magic Valley just as hard due to a few things.

“Some of that is because we have reduced the number of procedures we’re doing,” Kern said. “Surgeries that require an overnight stay we have put on hold to save on bed capacity. So we’ve had some reduction in some of the other patients we have in the hospital to try to save on staff and hospital beds.”

However, even with postponing elective surgeries that require an overnight stay at St. Luke’s Magic Valley, staffing remains a major concern.

Many of the hospital staff are becoming infected with the coronavirus, and they’re not getting it from work.

“With our current PPE practices, we have not really been having in hospital spread of the coronavirus,” Kern said. “It’s our employees who are getting it are getting it out in the community. Many of us have children in school. We have to go grocery shopping. We have to do many of the same life activities everyone else does.”

And they could be out for an unknown length of time, leading to more issues.

“It’s not just nursing staff. It’s everything,” Kern said. “At one point we were having trouble turning over rooms because the housekeeping team was out. And you know, it takes everybody in the facility to run a hospital. It’s not like anybody’s expendable. So whenever anybody goes out with COVID and can’t work, it has an impact on our ability to provide care.”

On Monday night, the hospital had to divert incoming patients to St Luke’s Boise because it didn’t have the staff to take care of them.

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