Valley hospitals react to Gov. Newsom lifting stay home orders

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- While California is dropping stay home orders, hospital officials say we're not out of the woods yet.

"For hospital care in the Valley, zero has changed from yesterday to today," says David Bacci with the Hospital Council for Northern and Central California.

State health officials are projecting ICU availability for the San Joaquin Valley region will increase to just over 22 percent by late February.

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But many Central Valley facilities are still stretched thin when it comes to staffing and space.

"The reality of the patients that we have here, they're staying longer and taking more resources than a normal patient," Bacci said. "How do we get our Valley hospitals to that four-week point? Our focus is trying to bring in staffing and supply to care for the people we need to now."

The Chief Medical Officer at St. Agnes, however, says the announcement didn't come as a surprise.

He says they didn't see the influx of holiday patients they were expecting, and are seeing fewer cases at the hospital.

"We noticed a decrease in the COVID census," says Dr. W. Eugene Egerton. "We still have challenges with regards to our ICU population because the patients we were admitting were sicker."
Dr. Egerton says he's hopeful, and in the meantime, they're getting more help.

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"We've received the assistance in travel nurses and additional respiratory staff," he said. "We've been able to have our staff show flexibility in order to support our critical care specialist. In addition, we've had staff out in quarantine. We're beginning to get some of those staff back."

Some healthcare workers aren't on board with lifting the order.
The California Nurses Association is condemning the decision, saying, " Nurses call on state leaders to prioritize people over profits, and we urge the public to listen to nurses and continue following the stay at home orders."

Hospital officials say since case rates remain high across most of the state, the state's Hospital Surge Order remains in place, which allows hospitals to transfer patients to hospitals with more space.

People are still encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing, and try to stay home as often as possible.
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