Finding available hospital beds can be a problem with any hospital anywhere at any time. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on local hospitals to find space for patients who need care for coronavirus symptoms, as well as other medical conditions.

In Clarkston, Tri-State Hospital CEO Don Wee and Chief Nursing Officer Jackie Mossakowski acknowledged there have sometimes been problems finding a bed for patients needing treatment there.

“It’s a very dynamic situation, and we look at bed status every four hours, knowing that things can change,” Mossakowski said.

She said it’s not unusual to start the day with plenty of beds, ready to take in admissions, but that can quickly change to where there is no space for additional patients.

Wee said bed availability also depends on patients’ needs.

Wee said adding COVID-19 patients on top of regular medical needs takes up more staff, as well as requiring personal protective equipment and other special gear specific to the virus.

He urged the public to continue to be vigilant to help with the hospital situation. Wearing face coverings, washing hands and keeping social distance, he said, “is not a political issue. It’s a health care issue, and until people get their arms around it, it’s not going to stop.”

Other hospitals in the region contacted Tuesday afternoon reported they still had hospital space available, but it is a situation evaluated every few hours or at least daily.

Pullman Regional Hospital spokeswoman Megan Guido said that facility was near capacity in October, but patient loads have gone down gradually since then and currently it is operating at about 50 percent capacity.

“So we have a daily review of that to see what our capacity is and the bed capacity around the region and state,” Guido said. “Some hospitals are really challenged right now.”

Peter Mundt of Gritman Medical Center in Moscow also said bed capacity is monitored on a regular basis.

“We’re always looking at capacity issues, but that’s taken on a new meaning (with COVID-19),” Mundt said. “We’re not currently in a capacity situation, but we recognize with all our staff that it can turn very quickly. So that does not give us a false sense of security. We have the capacity to provide care and strongly encourage the public to take the best measures they can to keep the spread low.”

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.

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