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Madera Community Hospital has 10 ICU beds. All those beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.

In fact, there’s not a single ICU bed available in the entire county.

“All of those are patients that are on ventilators,” hospital Chief Executive Officer Karen Paolinelli tells GV Wire℠ by Zoom. “We do have seven patients currently holding in our emergency department right now, and three of those are on ventilators.”

The hospital has been so overrun they’ve had to move patients to other hospitals. On Monday night, two patients were taken to hospitals in Riverside and the Sacramento area.

“We’ve just really struggled getting enough staff.”Karen Paolinelli, Madera Community Hospital Chief Executive Officer

More patients were transferred out Wednesday. Paolinelli says, “We normally never transfer patients out unless they need a higher level of care than what we can provide for them.”

Paolinelli says the hospital would like to expand capacity into other available space at the facility, but lacks the staffing to do so.

Now, the California Emergency Medical Services Authority is stepping in to provide 24 nurses in the coming days. The assistance is being facilitated through the Medical Health Operational Area Coordination program.

Opening More ICU Beds

The hospital’s goal is to have 8 additional ICU beds available early next week.

“We’ve just really struggled getting enough staff,” says Paolinelli. She says the state has assured her the additional personnel will be in place for at least a couple of months.

Paolinelli says keeping patients in her hospital, close to home is the goal.

“It’s very hard transferring patients out for the families,” she explains. “It’s hard for for everybody involved in all the hospitals are impacted.”

Valley Children’s Hospital Ready To Help

Valley Children’s Hospital is now accepting transfer patients up to 27 years old. That’s a change from just a few days ago when they were taking in patients up to 25 years of age.

VCH says older patients are already considered on a case-by-case basis. With the San Joaquin Valley region still listed at 0% ICU availability on California’s online COVID tracking dashboard, the ability to find nearby ICU capacity is critical.

So far, Madera Community Hospital has not transferred any of their patients to VCH.

“Most of our patients do not meet their criteria,” says Paolinelli. “They have some criteria for a certain BMI and also age 27 and under.”

Paolinelli says her staff is in regular touch with VCH. “They’ve been very, very willing, and very helpful throughout the Valley to help hospitals offload some patients,” she says.

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