Yakima - The Omicron variant has once again pushed hospitals to their breaking point. Yakima Valley Memorial has over 200 people in their hospital and 38 covid positive patients. What they don't have is enough staff to care for all those people. Fortunately, they are expecting help soon.
On January 13, Governor Jay Inslee announced he would be deploying 100 national guard troops to four emergency departments in dire need of help. Yakima's fit that description.
According to the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marty Brueggemann they are overwhelmed.
"Stretchers in any vacant hallway, we had people in chairs," Dr. Brueggemann said. "We are seeing patients wherever we can."
With the Omicron variant being more transmissible than other variants, it's pushing staff and resources to the limits.
"Every time one of those surges emerges, it's like they're turning around from a battle then they have to go right back in," Dr. Brueggemann said.
Resources like blood are in short supply and the ability to get more is also affected by donation clinic's own staffing shortages.
Dr. Brueggemann urged people who have the ability to donate, to do so. Otherwise, some patients may have to be prioritized for blood than others.
YVM said they are expecting national guard troops to arrive January 24. However, they don't know how many out of the 100 deployed they'll be given or in what areas they can help yet. The troops deployed will be nonclinical.
"In any case, we are grateful," Dr. Brueggemann said.
Last year, YVM received 40 FEMA nurses to help fill gaps in staffing. Dr. Brueggemann says they've been helpful.
"It's amazing to have that kind of support because it's really hard to maintain staffing without them and they're really the only reason we are still holding it together," Dr. Brueggemann said.
Now, they've requested 20 more FEMA nurses. If approved, they'd have 60 total.
YVM is not in crisis staffing mode like other hospitals in surrounding states are. Crisis staffing is different from crisis standards of care as it only affects staffing. It means covid positive staff may be called in to work if they have minimal symptoms or are asymptomatic.
The hospital hopes they don't have to get to that point, but if they do, they say they'll be transparent and let people know they could be cared for by someone who's covid positive.
"Certainly we would not do this in a vacuum, we would let people know that we are having to do that like they have in other places," Dr. Brueggemann.
With the county's positivity rate being over 40%, hospital admissions are expected to increase.
Dr. Brueggemann says in the event you do have to be hospitalized, take into account that staff are tired.
"Frankly, they are worn out," Dr. Brueggemann said. "Please when you do need to come here, treat our staff with compassion."