Sierra View Medical Center ED overwhelmed Monday by COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tulare County's Director of Health and Human Services said the situation at Sierra View Medical Center on Monday was concerning.

Tim Lutz told county supervisors that Porterville's hospital was at staffing capacity and had an emergency department with nine hour wait times.

Sierra View Chief Nurse Executive Dr. Jeffery Hudson-Covolo explained that the hospital saw large increases in admissions of COVID-19 positive patients in recent days.

"Yesterday we had to open up a fourth unit," Hudson-Covolo said. "In addition, the ED just became so saturated that we no longer could care for the patients that were in the emergency room timely."

The hospital declared an internal disaster, allowing them to bring in more nurses to free up more beds in COVID and non-COVID units of the hospital, which in turn eased the pressure on the emergency department.

Though the situation has stabilized, it was discussed in a call between local hospitals, state officials, and the Tulare County Public Health Department on Tuesday.

"Ultimately the conversation is going to be held between the three hospitals to determine who has an available bed, who has space?" said Tulare County Public Health Emergency Manager Annette Burgos. "What can we do and how can we partner together to make sure we're keeping our residents safe here in Tulare County and we're able to care for them in Tulare County?"

As of Tuesday, Sierra View was caring for around 30 COVID patients, and down to just 10 total available beds.

However, the hospital still has the ability to activate another nine beds in a conference room if needed.

Hudson-Covolo says they are doing everything they can to care for those who need it, with a staffing plan to sustain the surge.

"So I would not say we are seeing a bunch of patients who don't need to be seen in the emergency room," he said. "Right now the volume is just so great that we're trying to deal with the volume of patients who truly need to be seen in the hospital. That's creating the capacity and surge issues."
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