Valley hospital beds continue to fill with COVID patients

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Amid another COVID-19 surge, fueled by the Omicron variant, Central Valley hospitals are at capacity, or close to it.

"It's an ongoing, growing number of patients now," explained Deanette Sisson, a chief nursing officer at Saint Agnes Medical Center.

According to federal data, during the week of January 7-13, Saint Agnes in northeast Fresno had an average of 373 hospital beds each day and 41 ICU beds. At least 90% of those beds were occupied, but less than half were patients with COVID.

In just one week, that has changed dramatically.

"We're 20 patients up from Saturday," said Sisson. "From a week ago, we're between 35-40 more COVID patients."

Officials with Saint Agnes said the rising numbers of COVID patients, plus the high volume of non-COVID patients, is pushing the hospital beyond capacity.

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According to the hospital, it's converting other clinical spaces to accommodate more patients -- both ICU and non-ICU.

It's a similar story in the South Valley.

During the week of January 7-13, Kaweah Health Medical Center had an average of 469 hospital beds each day and 41 ICU beds. More than half were occupied.
Similar to Saint Agnes, it was mostly non-COVID patients.

However, as of yesterday, 96 positive patients are in the hospital and eight in the ICU -- for a total of 104.

"We were a little behind the rest of the state with this latest surge," said Keri Noeske, VP chief nursing officer. "So our numbers stayed pretty consistent, in the 30 range, for several weeks, through the holidays and the start of January, and then we started to climb."

Keri Noeske said while hospitalizations have increased, the length of time COVID patients are spending there has decreased to around seven days. That's due in part to Omicron causing less severe symptoms than other variants. This frees up beds for other patients in need of care.

However, Noeske believes the surge the Valley is seeing will likely get worse before it gets better.

"I anticipate in about two weeks, we'll peak and come back down," she said.
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