Hospitals in WA are still facing high numbers of COVID cases per day


Washington state‘s decline in COVID-19 cases amid the deadly fifth wave has stabilized.

That is what hospital officials said Monday, offering updates on hospital stays in a briefing hosted by the Washington State Hospital Association.

“And we don’t like where we are now,” said Taya Briley, WSHA executive vice president.

“Right now there are about 1,000 COVID-19 hospital admissions in Washington state each day, compared to 300-350 last June and July,” Briley said. “And that’s a reminder that 1,000 hospital admissions a day was the high point of the surge we had in December 2020,” followed by mitigation measures like closings and restrictions on gatherings.

The majority of hospital patients remain unvaccinated.

She found the state averages about 12-15 COVID deaths per day, with 177 COVID patients nationwide having ventilators, up from 187 the previous week.

As the stress of high numbers of COVID patients puts a strain on hospitals, another trend has emerged in emergency visits, Briley noted.

“Compared to this summer, the number of emergency admissions for anxiety and depression among adolescents has doubled to around 320 per week. That is a 45 percent increase and the number of emergency room visits for these disorders compared to last year, ”she said. “And while the numbers are trending down a bit right now, we remain concerned about the overall high numbers as most of these children in need of treatment are admitted to the emergency room.

“That puts an additional strain on the system overall. And this is especially true when we see visits to the pediatric emergency room for all kinds of illnesses. “

Dr. Mary Fairchok, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Tacoma’s medical director for pediatric infectious diseases, said September was the busiest for the hospital that month, with 114 COVID admissions through the emergency room, compared with 65 in the October preliminary census.

“Most of our children who have been admitted actually fall into the under 2 age group. But the majority of those who were very sick and in intensive care were actually over 10 years old and I don’t think any of them got vaccinated, ”she said.

She added that along with the rise in COVID cases in children, there has been a “dramatic increase” in children with a post-COVID complication called MIS-C, a multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

“We have had about 45 cases of this condition, and the vast majority of these children end up in intensive care and have associated heart problems,” she said.

The CDC’s final approval recommendations for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID vaccine for people ages 5-11 are expected this week. With this, hospital officials hope parents will get their children vaccinated quickly as soon as vaccinations are available.

“It’s really important to get this group vaccinated as soon as possible while we get into the respiratory disease and the holiday season,” said Dr. John Hawes, a pediatrician at Swedish Medical. “And these vaccines will make our schools safer, keep the children in our community healthy, and make it easier for children to stay in school and not worry about quarantine.”

Fairchok underlined the importance of having children vaccinated.

“We shouldn’t minimize the effects of the virus on this age group. It was still the sixth leading cause of death among 4 to 11 year olds during Delta, ”she said. “Children that age shouldn’t die.”

Dr. Karthikeyan Muthuswamy, Lakewood Emergency Doctor at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health stated, “Every patient in our intensive care unit who is COVID positive is unvaccinated.”

“I remember when I was here last year I was very excited that someday we would get the vaccine. We’re going to squash that, it won’t be a thing in 2021. And then in 2021 just say: ‘Hold my beer here.’ “

He said the loss of life and damage from COVID has put a heavy strain on healthcare workers.

“You know, taking care of a sick patient is not easy. But when you see it in younger and younger patients, it really really hurts in a very difficult way to describe, ”Muthuswamy said.

“Compassion fatigue is real and our caregivers are very frustrated. They are tired, they are exhausted. They put on extra shifts and looked after a lot of patients who really feel like they’ve taken preventable shots if vaccines were accepted at a higher rate, ”said Dr. Kevin Pieper, Chief Medical Officer of Kadlec Medical Center’s Tricity Area.

Debbie Cockrell has been with The News Tribune since 2009. It reports on economy and development, local and regional issues.


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