Idaho hospital may transfer patients to Seattle, Portland amid capacity strains

Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is looking at opportunities to transfer patients to facilities in Seattle and Portland, Ore., as its hospital nears capacity and COVID-19 cases surge in the region, according to TV station KREM.

Kootenai Health, which includes a 330-bed community-owned hospital, said in a statement Oct. 21 that it has 31 COVID-19 inpatients, 11 of whom require critical care, and is facing a shortage of workers. Their hospital is at 99 percent capacity for medical or surgical care, the statement said.

“Because many regional hospitals are experiencing the same situation, there will be limited opportunities to transfer patients to other facilities once at capacity,” the hospital said. “As we have been working to accommodate patients, several regional hospitals have either declined to accept transfers due to their own capacity/staffing, or they have been highly selective about which patients they can accommodate. For this reason, we are looking at hospitals beyond our normal transfer area to see what is available.”

Kootenai Health said it is looking at hospitals in Seattle or Portland to find space for patient transfers, but it is limited, according to KREM.

Chief Physician Executive Karen Cabell, DO, told the station the hospital’s current capacity situation is “unprecedented,” but the hospital will not turn patients away. However, she noted there may be long wait times and patients could receive care in different locations such as the waiting room. 

Many areas of the country, including Idaho, are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. Panhandle Health District in northern Idaho reported 72 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 21.

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