Beds Overfilled while Staff Support Each Other at Huggins Hospital
Over the past few weeks, Huggins Hospital has experienced an unprecedented number of patients and extremely high numbers of COVID-19 positive cases. At times, the COVID-19 positive patients constitute more than half the patients in Huggins Hospital’s overfilled Medical/Surgical and Intensive Care Units. With beds overfilled throughout New Hampshire and beyond, the situation is creating complications for access to care.
“Since COVID-19 patients often require a longer hospital stay due to the severity of their illness, the typical turnover and ability to get more patients into our inpatient beds has become an hourly struggle for our teams,” said Stacey Savage, MSN, RN, Huggins Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer. “Every day, we have many people waiting in our Emergency Department and in our hallways for a bed in our inpatient units or to be transferred to another facility that is experiencing a similar situation to what we have here at Huggins Hospital.”
Huggins Hospital continues to report a COVID-19 positivity rate of around 20% of those who are tested at the hospital, either through the community-based Drive Up Testing site or through regular patient testing. Huggins Hospital staff are caring for more COVID-19 patients than ever before.
“COVID-19 patients take extra time and extra care,” said Jeremy Roberge, Huggins Hospital’s President and CEO. “Even before caring for the patient, the staff need to take extra time to don the PPE necessary to protect themselves and others. With this extra time required, the typical staffing ratios are not enough. We sent a request to all our employees to support our busiest departments in whatever way they can. We have started to deploy team members to different areas of the organization and will continue to do so as we experience this surge in patients.”
Huggins Hospital has also had to reschedule some elective procedures and open up physical bed space for Emergency Department patients in other areas such as the PACU (post anesthesia care unit).
“Our Emergency Department is overflowing on any given day,” said Savage. “We have staff from other areas supporting the team in there and helping to move patients out of our hallways and into other units until we can find them a bed within our hospital or elsewhere.”
The staff at Huggins Hospital report that they are still seeing non-emergency patients coming to the Emergency Department seeking routine care or testing for COVID-19.
“We can’t stress enough that we need people to reach out to their primary care providers for non-emergent services and to access COVID-19 testing through other avenues if they are not experiencing an emergency,” said Savage. “Along with the Drive Up Testing site at Huggins Hospital, there are many other locations to access testing. We are here to help and we need everyone’s support to keep our Emergency Department access open for those experiencing emergencies.”
According to Huggins Hospital officials, the surge in patients is expected to last for a while as the holidays approach and people plan to gather inside. They request that everyone be vaccinated and avoid attending events if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even mild symptoms such as headache and sore throat. Safety recommendations also include masking, sanitizing and distancing as much as possible. Community members can access COVID-19 vaccines through multiple open, free sites across the state: www.vaccines.nh.gov as well as at Huggins Hospital. Access to testing is available at multiple sites across the state as well: www.covid19.nh.gov/resources/testing-guidance.
To further support Huggins Hospital, you can visit www.hugginshospital.org/support/donate.
Pictured: Maureen Boornazian, RN, caring for a patient with COVID-19 at Huggins Hospital.