With hospitalizations in the Valley down only slightly, military medical teams are extending their help in the coronavirus battle by 14 days.
But, according to Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch, that won’t be long enough.
Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, and Adventist Health Hanford are getting the extra support.
The 20-person military units help hospitals maximize their available bed space as COVID-19 case counts push the facilities to capacity.
Watch: Coronavirus Spread in Fresno County March 1-July 19
Lynch is advising the hospitals to ask the Department of Defense teams to stay at least another 30 days. He said he expects that CRMC, Adventist Health Hanford, and Kaweah Delta will all be granted the extra time because “the Central Valley is a hot spot.”
Additionally, Lynch has asked the state to provide a team for Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno. Many of its ICU beds aren’t available due to staff shortages.
“DoD teams are specially designed for ICU,” Lynch said.
Madera Community Hospital has been receiving assistance from the State Health Corps and, at least for now, appears to have sufficient staffing, according to Lynch.
Kaweah Delta Medical Center
Since mid-July, the team of 21 military healthcare workers — mostly from Travis Air Force Base — has been assisting at Kaweah Delta.
On Wednesday, the hospital was caring for 64 patients with COVID-19. That’s down from Kaweah Delta’s high of 91 patients on July 25, but the hospital has more than 70 workers quarantined at home.
Kaweah Delta’s solutions to the staffing challenges include incentivizing clinical staff to work additional shifts and hiring additional clinical staff and student nurse interns. Additionally, Kaweah Delta has returned registered nurses to bedside from other departments.
Hospitalizations Trend Down, ICUs remain High
On July 30, non-ICU hospitalizations in Fresno County were at 255, according to county data. As of Monday, the number had fallen to 215.
However, ICU hospitalizations remain high and are not showing the same type of drop. The ICU count Monday was 58 patients — same as the July 30 number.