Park City Hospital has capacity in case influx of COVID-19 cases comes, CEO says
Park City Hospital is in good shape and retains capacity to see patients as it prepares for an influx of COVID-19 cases, its CEO said Friday, converting beds and reaching out to suppliers while the pandemic continues to extend its reach into the Summit County community.
Lori Weston, the hospital’s CEO, said that, while the hospital is small and has been seeing people with the disease, it has capacity to spare at the moment as it concentrates its efforts on preparing for a growing number of patients.
“We feel like we’re starting off in a good position,” Weston said in an interview Friday. “Of course, we’re not sure how hard we will be hit here in Utah. Hopefully, our efforts to social distance, people stay at home, stay home when you’re sick, wash your hands, those types of things, those efforts that we’ve put in place in our communities will help bend that curve so we don’t see the influx as they’re seeing in other areas of the world right now.”
Weston said that crucial equipment includes ventilators, intensive-care unit beds and personal protective equipment for staff.
The hospital has 40 beds, Weston said, and a half-dozen will continue to be used for labor and delivery. She said the hospital is converting regular medical beds to intensive-care beds, which require additional equipment like oxygen and power supplies.
Reports coming from areas hit hard by the disease like New York City indicate medical personnel are rationing protective equipment like masks and goggles. Weston said personal protective equipment is not being rationed and that the hospital has enough equipment for now and has been in talks with suppliers about replenishing supplies if they run low.
She added that the hospital has the advantage of being part of the larger Intermountain Healthcare system, which helps with supplies and excess capacity if demand for health care services spikes.
“I think the thing to remember is we have capacity and we have the ability — we’re prepared to be able to take care of an influx into our hospital and into the Intermountain Healthcare system if it happens,” Weston said. “There’s plenty of space for us to move into and we’re working with the suppliers to get the necessary equipment and the (personal protective equipment) that we need.”
She said that if Park City Hospital were to reach capacity, patients could be moved to other Intermountain Healthcare hospitals, and that the hospital is looking at ways to expand at its Park City location.
Summit County is a hot spot for the outbreak, Weston said, with per-capita transmission rates approximately 20 times that of other areas.
Intermountain Healthcare has set up two COVID-19 testing locations at its instacare clinics in Park City and Heber, where patients who have a doctor’s order can go and receive a test. Additionally, it has what Weston called a screening and testing site near the hospital and the Park City Ice Arena. There, patients can be screened to see whether they require a test, and if they do, be tested on-site.
System-wide, Intermountain Healthcare has 22 curbside testing sites, according to a press release sent Tuesday.
Weston requested those who are considering seeking a test to call Intermountain Healthcare’s hotline at 844-442-5224. There is also a free symptom checker available online at intermountainhealthcare.org. In the press release, officials say the screening system is working well to separate those who need to be tested from the “worried well.”
Weston said there have been more and more cars coming through the ice arena site but that the system has been functioning as intended.
“We are not overrun by any means there,” Weston said. “It’s pretty consistent flow down there. We’ve got two lanes that people can come talk to a professional and be seen.”
She said there are surges at some points in the day and that calling first enables people to be, in effect, first in line.
And since Summit County is a hot spot, Weston said, some testing restrictions have been loosened.
“If you are showing symptoms, we will swab,” she said.
She said in the last few days, as more testing has become available, the amount of people screened and then tested at the site has risen from around 20% to roughly half.
Finite testing remains a limiting factor, however, and more data and more tests would enable health care professionals to more accurately assess where outbreaks are happening and work to contain them, she said.
Weston repeatedly mentioned the strength and resilience of the hospital’s staff, saying morale among caregivers is high and that people are asking for ways to help. She said she wants the community to know that the hospital is here to help, and that it is taking measures to keep the hospital safe for all, including instituting separate entrances for those who have respiratory symptoms.
“With the measures we’re putting in place, we’re doing the best we can with what we know,” Weston said. “We’re prepared as a hospital and as a community we’re doing everything we can. We do need the community’s help. I think people need to realize that this really is serious.”
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The unemployment rate in Summit County in September rose slightly and the state upwardly revised the August figure, evidence job gains in the Park City-area have largely stalled.