Utah health care providers are concerned about ICU capacity


SALT LAKE CITY – Hospitals are seeing an increase due to novel coronaviruses.

Intensive care units are flooded across the state due to influx of patients. For example, the ICU at the University of Utah Hospital had a capacity of 104 percent as of Friday. Doctors said on Saturday that things were starting to get better, but they are requesting the community to take necessary steps to curb the continuing pressure on the state’s health care facilities.

“We’re at about 94 percent capacity this morning,” Utah Hospital Chief Medical Operations Officer Dr. Russell Winick said. “Which gives us a little breathing room, but not much.”

Dr. Winick said that if hospitalization continues, the ICU may not be able to handle all new patients.

“Currently, we at the University of Utah are able to manage all of our beds,” Dr. Vinayak said. “But this case cannot proceed if the disease continues to worsen.”

Medical Director of Intermountain Healthcare’s Telehealth Infectious Disease Service, Drs. Todd Vento said facilities throughout Utah are facing a similar scenario.

“We are either beyond capacity, beyond capacity, or near capacity in various health care systems around the state,” Dr. Vento said.

With cases of seasonal flu with stress, Drs. Vento said the outlook is serious until things start to change.

He said, “We are driving a boat down the river right now, and we are taking water.” “We would expect to say that we are going to the shore and see the sunshine, but instead floods and storms are coming towards us.”

For staff at both the U Hospital and Intermountain, additional stress in the ICU means spending more time in the hospital and more time.

“We are operating our additional unit with people lifting the additional increase, working extra hours and taking changes they would not normally make,” Dr. Vinayak said.

Dr. “We have ICU nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, overtime, overtime, other employees working in extra shifts,” Vento said.

Due to this additional stress, U of U hospital has had to delay what they call a “non-time-sensitive process” to ensure they have the extra space needed to deal with all new patients.

“There’s a point there when you can’t cut back any further, and then what we have to do is stretch our staff even more than what we’re currently doing,” Dr. Vinayak said. “And it’s not good for patient care.”

Doctors at both hospitals are requesting to follow the health safety protocol with the community to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“This is when we don’t start taking those measures, and our ICUs start rising on the seam, when we have to do those second and third line measures,” Dr. Vento said. “And this is the part we don’t want to get.”

Dr. Vento said social disturbances, wearing masks and limiting large gatherings are the biggest things people can help overwhelm hospitals.

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