How smaller hospitals around the region are handling the crush of COVID-19 patients

Two smaller hospitals in our region, in Butler and Clarion, reported they are out of ICU beds as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. It’s a problem other small facilities are also looking to work through.

“We have cut back on some of our elective admissions that would require hospital beds, particularly those that would require monitored beds of some sort, in order to create capacity,” said Excela Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carol Fox.

Around 40% of adults being admitted to Excela hospitals in Westmoreland County have COVID-19. Smaller hospitals like Excela and Washington Health System in Washington County, Heritage Valley in Beaver and Allegheny counties and St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon are being watched closely for capacity issues.

Heritage Valley told Channel 11 the facility is creating additional COVID-19-specific units to deal with increased demand. A spokesperson for St. Clair said the hospital made preparations for a surge in cases earlier in the fall and patient care has not yet been impacted.

Staffing shortages are another issue many health-care companies are dealing with.

“When you look at what the state defines as having some critical staffing needs, we’re in that situation and we reported that to the state,” Fox said.

In our area, there are plans in place to deal with COVID-19 patients regionally with major players UPMC and AHN along with the smaller hospitals. The idea is to handle the situation as a group and potentially lessen the impact so one hospital does not get overwhelmed.