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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Marshall fire puts additional pressure on health care workers with Louisville hospital closures, staff displaced

by Kate Rudder, Kaiser Health News

The Colorado wildfires last month destroyed more than 1,000 homes, forced a hospital to close temporarily and upended the lives of health care workers as the state’s already strained health care system succumbed to COVID-19. braces for another surge in hospitals.

Evista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, a community outside Boulder that was devastated by wildfires on December 30, has been closed due to smoke damage and officials have not announced when it will reopen. could. In addition, at least 36 people working in hospitals in the region lost their homes, while others damaged their homes with smoke that could prevent them from returning home.

The temporary loss of one 114-bed hospital out of more than 25 in the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area may not usually be a cause for concern. But it comes at a time when the state’s health care system is nearing capacity, health workers are under strain from the nearly two-year-old pandemic, and hospitalizations are pouring in as the Omicron version drives a new spike in COVID cases.

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“We’ve been stretched in our capacity for months,” said Colorado Hospital Association spokeswoman Kara Welch. “We mostly have over 90% capacity for ICUs and acute care beds. Therefore, any loss of bedding availability is challenging.”

On January 7, out of 1,055 hospitalizations, COVID hospitalizations were 37% higher than the recent low on December 25. As of January 7, about 94% of acute care hospital beds were full. Hospital bed capacity reflects not only the physical beds, but also the health care staff needed to support those patients. State health officials say Colorado likely won’t see the peak of omicron growth for a couple of weeks, and it’s difficult to estimate how many may lead to hospitalizations.

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

A ServaPro worker cleans a vent in an ICU room at Evista Adventist Hospital on January 6, 2022. Evista Adventist, which is currently closed, was evacuated after a martial fire that claimed at least one life and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

“While bed availability remains at a level across the state and in all hospital systems, the state is closely monitoring the impact of the Marshall fires,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokeswoman Annemarie Harper said in an email. Is.”

The highly transmissible variant has resulted in a significant increase in cases in the US and Colorado, but has not increased the proportion of hospitalizations. Nevertheless, the sheer number of new cases translates to a significant increase in hospitalizations. According to The New York Times COVID Tracker, the number of hospitalized COVID patients in the US is more than 50% in the past two weeks.

“A small percentage of people are still large numbers,” said Caitlin Zetellina, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

The Marshall fire killed at least one person and destroyed 550 homes in Louisville, 378 in the nearby Superior community and 156 in unincorporated parts of Boulder County. Seven commercial structures were destroyed, and an additional 30 businesses and 149 homes were damaged.

Marshall fire puts additional pressure on health care workers with Louisville hospital closures, staff displaced

Photo via Centura Health

Evista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Colorado, is temporarily closed due to smoke damage from the Marshall fire that ignited on December 30, 2021.

For a time on December 30, the staff at Evista Adventist Hospital feared the most. Wind gusts of up to 100 mph drove the winter fires directly toward the community hospital owned by Centura Health, with the flames rising rapidly and igniting homes and businesses in the surrounding areas. Was.

Hospital workers used buckets of water and hoses to douse the flames within yards of igniting flammable liquid-oxygen tanks outside the building. Inside, doctors and nurses escorted 51 patients to a safe location before an ambulance took them to nearby hospitals or discharged them.

“The fire was fierce and was moving so fast. The fact that we are here is nothing short of a miracle,” said President and CEO Isaac Sandros, recalling the two-hour ordeal.

The homes of a handful of workers who worked that afternoon were directly in the path of the fire. After making sure their families were safe, they stayed to take care of the patients selflessly, Sandros said.

Reopening as quickly and safely as possible is now a top priority, he said, although he did not predict when that might happen. There was no running water in the hospital. Sandros said a team of 100 people worked to repair the damage caused by the smoke and that staff were temporarily redeployed to Century Hospitals.

“The sooner we can reopen, we can also help our community heal,” he said.

Welch confirmed that the Marshall fire puts additional pressure on already thin health care workers. “The community spread of Omicron is incredibly high, so staff are getting sick and quarantining, and we have the effect of fire. There is a lot that is driving the staffing issue right now,” she said.

Marshall fire puts additional pressure on health care workers with Louisville hospital closures, staff displaced

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Evista Adventist Hospital assistant nurse manager of surgery, Linda Yulios, left, and sterile processing technician, Doua Yang, right, move a patient’s bed into the waiting area to clean rooms at the hospital on January 6, 2022. Evista Adventist, currently closed, was evacuated due to martial fires that claimed at least one life and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

Anthony North Hospital, a forensic nurse examiner at St. Anthony North Hospital, minutes from a Louisville hospital, received a text at home on December 30 from her boss warning her that the fire hazard was getting more serious.

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