SEATTLE ( Associated Press) – State health care leaders said Monday that Washington’s hospitals are again “dramatically over capacity” as challenges of discharging patients and staff shortages continue.
At a news briefing, leaders of the Washington State Hospital Association said many health care facilities are filled 120% to 130%, leading to longer wait times in emergency departments, declining patient care and more across the state. Ambulance services are disrupted, Seattle Times reported, The high patient load is not directly due to COVID-19 cases, although they are on the rise, but due to delayed procedures and difficulties in discharging hospital patients.
“We are doing our best, but many of our hospitals – especially in the populous areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties on the west side of our state – are more frequent today than at any other point since the pandemic began. are stressful,” he said. Dr. Steve Mitchell, medical director of Harborview Medical Center’s emergency department and Washington Medical Coordination Center.
Mitchell said some of the patients left in hospitals are better suited to recover in acute care facilities such as skilled nursing homes. However, these types of facilities face shortage of staff and are often unable to take in more patients.
As a result, some of these post-acute patients stay in the hospital for months, Carrington said.
And while COVID-19 has recently had a less direct impact on hospital capacity, infections and hospitalizations continue to spread as the highly transmissible BA.5 variant continues, According to the state’s COVID-19 data dashboard, COVID patients account for about 12% of the state’s hospital beds, up from about 3.5% in early April.
Washington state’s guardianship laws also complicate leave, preventing a family member or close friend from giving consent on the patient’s behalf (if the patient is incapacitated or unable to give consent) to transport them from the hospital to another facility. For. If the patient has not appointed a decision maker in the power of attorney document, state law requires a court-appointed guardian, which is a lengthy process, said WSHA Vice President Taya Breley.
Hospital leaders have long asked state officials to address issues of discharge and staffing with measures such as reconsidering the interpretation of state guardianship laws, but change has been slow, Briley said.