The front page headline in the Nov. 6 Daily News may have caused alarm. The story titled “Hospital at COVID-19 capacity” was based upon comments Jeannie Eylar, chief nursing officer at Pullman Regional Hospital, gave at a Pullman League of Women Voters meeting.
The league asked for an update on COVID-19 activities at the hospital. Eylar reported October activities, including bed capacity and ability to transfer patients — not just COVID-19 positive patients — was challenged. This was due to increased COVID-19 positive hospitalized patients and area hospitals also being full. In October, we were averaging 3 COVID-19 positive patients per day.
That was October, and November is a different month. So far, our patient activity has fluctuated every day. However, the headline in the Daily News article led people to believe that the hospital was currently at capacity. In fact, the day the article was published, Nov. 6, our vacancy rate was 40 percent.
Pullman Regional Hospital is licensed as a 25-bed critical access hospital and we have the ability to surge to 35 rooms if necessary.
We have transferred some COVID positive patients to other hospitals when they needed a higher level of care and we will continue to do so.
However, there are also COVID positive patients who stay at Pullman Regional Hospital for care. It all depends on the severity of illness. It also depends upon other factors that we look at every day: volumes, staff, medication, PPE, equipment, space and regional bed capacity.
Daily, we work with the Disaster Medical Coordination Center and Wa-Trac association to understand bed availability across the state. We assess and adjust accordingly every day based on all these factors.
We are working to assure safe care for all patients who are in the hospital, whether that’s for COVID-19 or something else.
We are not alone in these challenges. Big hospitals and small hospitals throughout the region, state and country are facing surges in COVID-19 cases and are adjusting and managing every day.
As a partner in your healthcare, we strongly urge you to wear a mask, stay distanced, wash hands often and limit the number of people and time spent together for now and the upcoming holidays. Keep yourself safe so that we can keep taking care of patients.
Scott Adams is CEO of Pullman Regional Hospital.