COVID-19 hospitalizations are growing across San Diego County, as more people are being treated for the virus, this is also putting a strain on our intensive care units. As of Sunday afternoon the ICU capacity for the Southern California region, which includes San Diego and ten other counties, is now at 12.5%.
“It is definitely a fear of mine that we might hit capacity with a hospital and have to turn people away or not be able to give them good care,” said Kelly McGrath, a Registered Nurse at Sharp Grossmont.
McGrath is a surgical ICU nurse and explains how the winter months are typically a busy time for ICU's and hospitals are now seeing this demand even earlier.
“There are times when I wake up and I see that we see the panicked requests from our staffing office over saying we are short eight nurses,” she said.
In the last several weeks, COVID-19 cases have surged and McGrath said she's seen the uptick inside the hospital.
“Our hospitals are overflowing with patients and it's started to impact care in a big way because there are no additional beds, if somebody suddenly needs ICU level of care there's simply no space and there's not an ICU nurse to go in to handle them,” McGrath said.
San Diego County leaders held an emergency press conference on Saturday and discussed the state’s new stay-at-home order, they also pointed out while the county's ICU rate is not under 15%, the influence from other neighboring counties does put the county at risk.
Medical experts say even if we have enough hospital capacity it's important, hospitals have the right staff and equipment necessary.
“Okay you may have beds, but do you have a nurse to take care of that patient?” questioned McGrath. “And do you have a nurse with the correct skills to take care of that patient, especially if they need ICU level of care?”
McGrath also thanked the community for recognizing health care workers as heroes, but, she wants people to put those words into action by following their advice coming from data and science.
“I would like something more than lip service. I would like people to please listen to what we are saying. Listen to the data, listen to science, wear your masks, do not gather,” she said. “There is so much death and suffering, and I know we're all suffering from the changes caused by coronavirus to our day to day lives.”