Medical facilities in Kern County are being limited as more and more residents contract COVID-19.
During a Thursday news conference, Kern Medical CEO Russell Judd said that all local hospitals had reached a point of maximum capacity and were beginning to implement surgical plans.
A state model predicted that by the end of July the county would run out of staffing and space to treat coronovirus patients. With hospitals reaching capacity several times over the past few weeks, and with no indication that the infection will subside any time soon, Kern officials have begun to wash their hands in search of new employees to work in intensive care units .
“We thought that was going to happen in March or April, it’s on us in July and August,” Jude said in reference to early predictions that the hospital would exceed capacity last spring.
He later stated that as the number of COVID positive patients increased, tax resources continued to increase. “We know that there are more patients, they are sick patients, so we need to be able to make up for that increased number.”
In anticipation of even more residents needing medical care, the county plans to use federal CAR Act Act money to bring intensive medical unit nurses from around the country to local hospitals in ICU above their licensed capacity to be allowed. At the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, the county plans to contract with a staffing agency to bring nurses to Kern.
“There are not enough RNs who live in Kern County to provide this level of care,” Judd said, later explaining that itinerant nurses were sometimes paid more than triple normal wages. However, we are achieving this in anticipation of continued increase in the number of cases. We are firmly convinced that if we waited till the crisis and we reached the point where we now had to be there, there would be no nurse available. “
Ambulance services are also being pushed to the limits. Matt Constantine, director of the Public Health Service, reported that Hall was experiencing the number of ambulance record calls, which caused him to struggle with the workload. He said that the company had allegedly suspected more than 1,000 COVID-positive individuals or individuals to be COVID-positive.
Lately a number of ambulances have been needed, with some of Hall’s leadership teams, who are paramedics or EMTs, getting behind the wheel on some changes to help staffing.
Hall’s director of media services, Mark Korum, said Hall had subcontracted with the Liberty Ambulance out of Ridgrest to cover California’s city area. This would allow the company to divert more ambulances to the Bakersfield area.
Nevertheless, Hall requested two state “strike teams” to strengthen the company’s service. The teams, which include five ambulances each, will be in Bakersfield over the weekend.
Quorum quoted the strike teams as saying, “Everyone in the hall ambulance is giving 200 percent, but it has reached the point where we were forced to be active and said we needed to get some extra help.” “
He said the backlog in the local emergency rooms meant that the ambulance crew would sometimes have to wait up to four hours to release a patient, and local hospitals had asked the company to transfer transfers to locations outside Bakersfield Was forbidden together.
“It’s a tremendous burden because you only have a limited number of paramedics and EMTs that you can keep on schedule,” he said.
Hall is working with the county to create a plan where some patients can be landed at urgent care places instead of emergency rooms, which reduces congestion.
“It will help reduce the burden of ER congestion, reduce our time at work and have more ambulances available to respond,” he wrote in the email.
The increase in daily reported cases occurs as a US representative. Kevin McCarthy has worked to secure additional testing resources for the county. On Wednesday, McCarthy announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services approved increased testing capacity at Bakersfield.
Constantine said during the meeting that could allow up to 60,000 people to test quickly. The county plans to announce three new testing sites to accommodate the federal government’s action.
The new sites will come with the ability to analyze test samples in their laboratory, Constantine said, with a diversion time that should not exceed 48 hours.
Sam Morgan can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC