"This is Far From Over" Says Hospital CEO of COVID-19 Surge
By edhat staff
Health officials warn the surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are expected to continue through the end of January.
Ron Werft, President/CEO of Cottage Health System, stated "this is far from over" during Friday's press conference.
While hospital beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), and ventilators are in good supply, hospitals are most concerned about critical care staffing. The ability to identify, recruit, and expand staffing is very challenging for every hospital in the country, Werft said.
Cottage Health's surge plans are underway but there's a "limit to what we will be able to do," he said.
The Public Health Department announced the COVID-19 data for Friday is delayed due to an issue with the state's CalREDIE reporting system but Director Van Do-Reynoso was able to provide an update based on the past two weeks.
Santa Barbara County is seeing a 10-fold increase between Thanksgiving and the New Year, which is directly connected to gatherings and travel around the holidays, she said.
The data is "literally off the charts," said Do-Reynoso confirming they have had to adjust their graph displays to accommodate the surge in numbers. From December 27 through January 2, COVID-19 cases increased by 53%, active cases increased by 19%. "Testing positivity soared to 17% so that's approximately one positive for every sixteen test results," she said.
Additionally, there have been eight outbreaks in congregate care settings and six outbreaks in business settings: two in administrative offices, one in skilled labor, one in a grocery store, and one in retail.
Werft stated Cottage Health is receiving two to four patient transfer requests every 24 hours as many hospitals have hit the wall at zero available intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
Federal laws govern how hospitals manage transfers where each one is reviewed based on the hospital's capacity, a higher level of care, and confirmation the requesting hospital has exhausted every possible solution between them and Santa Barbara. Werft confirmed Cottage Health will not compromise its ability to provide care for the local community when accepting a transfer.
The Public Health Department has received 16,775 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date and recently ordered 4,900 doses with an additional 7,200 doses to be requested next week. The Department hopes to vaccinate 5,000 people this month.
Beginning Monday, a mobile COVID-19 testing unit will be available to support the expansion of testing throughout the county. The mobile testing unit will be located at CenCal Health in Santa Barbara (4050 Calle Real) from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. This test site will be available from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Friday thereafter for a minimum of two (2) weeks and available to all community members.
The mobile testing unit will then move to a new location which will be announced. To request an appointment, please go online to https://lhi.care/covidtesting. If you need assistance registering, call 2-1-1.
In addition to the new mobile testing site, expanded COVID-19 testing is also available in the Santa Maria and Isla Vista communities.
More information can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/