Sanford Health is successfully handling a surge in COVID -19-related inpatient traffic, Dr. Michael Wilde told the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls on Monday.
This assurance comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing in South Dakota and North Dakota. As students return to school and everyone resumes their fall routines, a surge in patients needing care was expected.
“You start to see more outpatient cases and that translates into inpatient cases,” said Dr. Wilde, the vice president medical officer for Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. “That being said, we’re still at a rate of COVID that is very manageable.”
Typically, there is an increase in hospitalizations this time of year. Coupled with the pandemic, it has heightened the need for communication between health care facilities within the region to assure that patients are where they should be to get the care they need.
No major changes
“We’ve had no major changes and continue to perform elective surgeries,” said Dr. Doug Griffin, Sanford Health vice president and chief medical officer of Sanford Fargo. “Like all hospitals across the state, we are experiencing high demand and have been for several weeks. We routinely flex our scheduling as part of the normal course of business and have no concern about meeting the health care needs in our communities.”
Midst the increased number of COVID cases, Sanford continues to follow state and federal guidelines to aggressively prevent transmission of the virus. In short, those who need care are getting it.
“We’ve always worked with surge and surge capacity and best practices as far as where people should be getting care,” Dr. Wilde said. “We’re operationalizing that at this time. We’re operating at a level that is more of the ‘surge’ type. We’re working with patients in outpatient facilities and making decisions to best care for patients where it is most appropriate.”
Progression in treatment
Dr. Wilde said Sanford Health is seeing inpatient numbers at twice the rate they were during the summer. Of those, fewer are needing ICU than would have been the case early on during the pandemic. In that sense, this version of the pandemic-driven increase in patients looks different than the last one.
“We’ve progressed so that we’re a little more comfortable with what can be managed at home vs. what we need to take care of in the hospital,” Dr. Wilde said. “Ultimately, that care is directed by the patient.”
Dr. Wilde’s main message: The idea that an increase in COVID patients has pushed capacity to the brink is just not the case.
“While we still have a lot of patients seeking care at this time, we still have room to accommodate patients,” he said.