In a nut shell, it comes down to the nurses that we have available.
The nurses we have posses a lot of necessary skills. Managing ventilators, multiple IV’s, etc. Some have additional skills such as being able to manage dialysis. We have a nurse to patient ratio that we try to maintain to allow the nurse enough time to thoroughly care for each patient in a controlled manner. Normally in the ICU this is usually 3 patients to 1 nurse. However, if the patient requires additional care such as assisted breathing with a ventilator, that ratio will change to a 1:1. This usually means that the patient is much more sick and is going to require much more of the nurse’s time and attention. So, this means that on a daily basis, (twice a day actually since our nurses work 12 hour shifts) we have to look at the number of our patients and factor in the current acceptable nurse to patient ratios. This allows us to look at our admit capacity and to notify areas that would be sending us patients. (Emergency, Surgery, Cath Lab, etc.)
Before the pandemic started we struggled with staffing due to a nationwide nursing shortage. It takes about 3-4 years for schools to generate new graduate nurses that we can use in the hospital. They usually spend some time in general medical/surgical floors before becoming ICU nurses. Those new ICU nurses take 6 months to orient to ICU before they can take patients on their own.
In addition to Idaho Falls Community Hospital there are other hospitals in the area that are dealing with Covid patients. A list of these hospitals and their patient totals is updated each Tuesday and Thursday on the East Idaho News website and app under their Covid -19 tab.
The Post Register Website shows the graph of daily Covid-19 Cases in Bonneville County on their website under the Covid-19 tab.