Hospital | KUNC

Hospital

The United States is seeing its highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. And nurses, doctors and other health care workers are not immune to pay cuts and furloughs.

Intensive care teams inside hospitals are rapidly altering the way they care for patients with COVID-19.

The changes range from new protective gear to new treatment protocols aimed at preventing deadly blood clots.

Jackie Hai / KUNC

Last week, Gov. Jared Polis urged Coloradans who need emergency medical care to go to the emergency room.

“If you need non-COVID medical care — chest pains, dizziness — seek out that medical care. If you would have gone in January or February don’t let the fear of COVID keep you from seeking out the medical treatment you need today, because we don’t want to see more people die of other health causes because of COVID,” he said at a press conference.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

ImadCode / CC BY-SA 2.0

Under the state’s new safer-at-home order, hospitals are allowed to start elective surgeries again, which were not allowed under the stay-at-home order. It’s up to individual hospital systems to decide if they want to do so.

The coronavirus outbreak has thrown hospital systems throughout the U.S. into crisis — both medical and financial. The cost of treating coronavirus patients, combined with the loss of revenue from canceling elective procedures, has left many hospitals in desperate financial straits.

Some estimates suggest hospitals are losing $50 billion a month, says Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

By this time next week, Decatur County, Tenn., will have lost its only hospital, Decatur County General, which has been serving the rural community of about 12,000 people along the Tennessee River since 1963.

The hospital's human resources director, Melinda Hays-Kirkwood, has already begun laying off people, and she says by next week only a skeleton staff will remain.

"It's hard on these employees that have been here a long time. I've got people who have been here for 30 years," Hays-Kirkwood says. "For some people, this has been their only job out of college."

As hospitals continue to fill up with COVID-19 patients, one major health care provider in the Mountain West announced it’s cutting pay for some of its medical staff.

As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, some communities will be better equipped to treat the sickest patients — specifically those requiring admission to intensive care units — than others. Not only do ICU capabilities vary from hospital to hospital, but also some parts of the country have far more critical care beds by population than others.

An NPR analysis of data from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice looked at how the nation's 100,000 ICU beds are distributed across the more than 300 markets that make up the country's hospital system.

Courtesy Jake Comer / Genesis Plastics

A Greeley plastics company has joined a statewide effort to fill the gaps in personal protective equipment, or PPE, for medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

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