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Pullman Regional Hospital at COVID-19 capacity

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 6, 2020

By Anthony Kuipers Moscow-Pullman Daily News

An increase in COVID-19 patients has pushed Pullman Regional Hospital’s capacity to its limit and it cannot currently receive help from regional hospitals in treating those patients.

Jeannie Eylar, chief clinical officer at PRH, discussed this issue with the League of Women Voters of Pullman on Thursday along with CEO Scott Adams and Dr. Gerald Early.

October, Eylar said, was an unusually busy month for PRH when it came to treating patients with COVID-19.

Every day that month, the hospital had between three and five patients per day with the coronavirus, she said. There were a total of 21 COVID-19 patients and they have been seriously ill.

This was a bigger surge of patients than the hospital had initially planned for in the earlier months of the pandemic, and other hospitals in the region have also reached their capacity.

“We thought our surge would be to have four COVID patients and, honestly, in the last three weeks, we’ve had more patients than we really felt like we had the capacity to take care of,” Eylar said. “But we couldn’t transfer anybody. Everybody throughout Washington and northern Idaho is packed. They have no more capacity either.”

Eylar said PRH staff meet every day to discuss capacity issues and how to take care of patients. Adams said the hospital has a total of 26 rooms with a bed at the hospital. There are 10 additional rooms available as well.

“We’ve got this inventory of capacity and what we do every afternoon is we say, ‘How are we going to take the resources we have and best organize them to make sure we can provide all the care that our community needs and not have to reduce, or minimize or eliminate a service?’ ” Adams said.

Eylar said the Whitman County Public Health Department is telling the hospital it needs to plan for this scenario for another six months.

Whitman County began to experience outbreaks in assisted living facilities around the end of September and early October. Eylar said the virus spread throughout the community after the Washington State University students came back to Pullman.

Nearly 150 residents and employees have gotten sick with COVID-19 at these assisted living facilities, she said.

“As I understand it, we’ve had a few people who happen to work in, maybe, an assisted living or adult family home and they got coronavirus,” she said. “They went to these residential facilities and that’s where these places started to get their outbreaks.”

PRH has worked to close the estimated $10 million gap in revenue during the pandemic through fundraising, reducing salaries, furloughs and federal assistance. Eylar said that gap remains at more than $1 million.

Whitman County received nine new positive COVID-19 test results Thursday, bringing the county total to 1,867. The new cases include one between ages of 0-19, six between the ages of 20-39, one between the ages of 40-59 and one between the ages of 60-79. Six cases are currently hospitalized.

The City of Moscow announced Thursday that City Hall will be closed after two city employees tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a post on the city’s Facebook page, city hall employees will work from home during this time.

Those who need to reach a city hall employee are instructed to call (208) 883-7000 for assistance.

Latah County reported 19 new cases Thursday, bringing the total to 1,039 confirmed cases. The new patients include seven between ages 18-29, two in their 30s, four in their 40s, four in their 50s, one in their 70s and one in their 80s.

According to Gritman Medical Center, a total of 16 patients have been hospitalized by the virus this year. That is four more patients since last week’s report from Gritman. In the past seven days, 104 people have tested positive from tests administered by Gritman, which equals a 5.7 percent positivity rate.

Fourteen tests administered by PRH came back positive between Oct. 21-Nov. 3, a positivity rate of 8.6 percent.

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