With the number of people in King County hospitalized for COVID-19 jumping more than 700 percent in the last month, hospitals are pleading with people to get vaccinated and boosted.
MultiCare Health System, the Washington State Hospital Association, Public Health - Seattle & King County and seven others signed a call to action this week asking residents for help reducing pressure on medical facilities.
In the midst of the Omnicron wave, COVID daily hospitalizations in King County surged from 8 to 70 people.
“The sheer number of patients means hospital acute care and ICUs across the state are very full,” said Washington State Hospital Association President & Chief Executive Officer Cassie Sauer. “Hospitals are doing everything they can with critical staffing levels to provide care in the most challenging situation we’ve seen to date.”
All hospitals in Puget Sound are operating at 100 percent capacity. MultiCare Auburn Medical Center hit 170 percent of its capacity in the peak of the Omnicron wave, said Dr. Michael Myint, physician executive for population health with MultiCare Health System.
This weekend, 10 National Guard members began helping to staff Harborview Medical Center’s COVID testing site.
Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month announced that 100 Washington National Guard members would be deployed to eight hospitals statewide to assist with staffing during the Omicron surge. The National Guard members will also give tests, handle administrative tasks and help with traffic control for the next four weeks.
Cases of those hospitalized for COVID have declined in the past few days, but hospital officials remain concerned about the strain from staffing shortages, increased hospitalizations and trouble discharging patients who no longer need care.
Statewide, Saucer said there are 2,333 confirmed COVID hospitalizations with 145 on ventilators. Washington hospitals are seeing 30-35 COVID deaths on average a day, compared with 10 to 15 just a few weeks ago.
The Public Health Department of Seattle & King County noted that patients most severely impacted by COVID are nearly all unvaccinated and unboosted.
That means surgeries and other medical care is backlogged for patients who do not have COVID.
“We’re already had to cancel most surgeries - delaying care that would help someone live a better, healthier life,” hospitals wrote in the call to action.
Here are ways health care professionals say you can help reduce impact to hospitals:
▪ Get vaccinated and if you are vaccinated and at least 12 years old, get a booster.
▪ Wear a protective mask, preferably an N95, KN95, KF94 or surgical mask. Always make sure the mask is fitted well.
▪ Avoid crowded indoor spaces.
▪ Do not go to the Emergency Room for mild illnesses or COVID testing.
▪ If you need routine medical care, talk to your provider immediately to ensure the problem doesn’t require advanced care by waiting too long.