Central CA hospitals plea for vaccinations, boosters as COVID hits them 'greater than ever before'

"We need your help to save our health systems and the people who take care of all of us."

ByNic Garcia and ABC30.com staff KFSN logo
Sunday, January 16, 2022
COVID hitting Central CA hospitals 'greater than ever before'
On Saturday, officials from several Central Valley hospitals shared a plea on social media, pushing for residents to get their vaccines.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The latest COVID-19 case surge is hitting Central California hospitals harder than ever before. On Saturday, officials from several hospitals across the region shared a plea on social media, pushing for people to get their vaccines.

"We need your help to save our health systems and the people who take care of all of us."

Community Health System, Community Regional Medical Center, UCSF Fresno, Madera Community Hospital, Saint Agnes Medical Center, Kaweah Health, Sierra View Medical, Valley Children's, Health Fresno County and San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation all shared the post to their social media pages.

RELATED: Omicron wave forces emergency changes for ambulances, hospitals in 4 Central Valley counties

The post included a video showing a large "S.O.S." sign, saying that hospitals are overwhelmed, and emergency rooms are being pushed toward disaster levels.

Omicron is taking over hospitals; between an uptick in patients and workers being out sick, hospitals are struggling.

Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno alone has about the same number of COVID patients as San Francisco.

Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals continue to be on the front lines of surges.

With Omicron being more contagious than previous variants, hospital employees are getting sick at higher rates. Community Medical Centers reports more than 770 employees out with COVID-19.

"We have some local hospitals currently with 10% of their staff out with COVID or with COVID exposures right now," said David Bacci, regional vice president of Hospital Council of Northern and Central California.

St. Agnes in northeast Fresno is down 250 employees to COVID, while Kaweah Health in Visalia has 247 employees out of work with the virus.

This week, EMS teams in Tulare, Fresno, Kings and Madera counties said they would implement an "assess and refer" policy because COVID patients are crowding hospitals and hundreds of healthcare workers are out with the virus.

Community Medical Centers reported 71% of their patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

"The vast majority of people needing medical care were not vaxxed, puts them at increased risk, including long COVID and provides strain to the entire system," Bacci said.

RELATED: CDC encourages more Americans to wear N95 masks to slow spread of COVID-19

The CDC has updated its mask guidance, advising more Americans to wear N95 or KN95 masks for higher protection against coronavirus.

'We are signaling for your help," they wrote, pushing for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.

They also asked people to continue wearing face masks, social distancing, get tested and stay home if they feel sick.

"This problem is preventable, and it's threatening our ability to provide care to the ones who need it most," the social media post read.

Nationwide, coronavirus cases are also up. This week, the Biden administration announced that at-home COVID-19 tests were to be distributed and available to many Americans starting Saturday.