Serving Franklin County, WA

Hospital staff play a "chess game" with patient beds

RITZVILLE – Dr. Charles M. Sackmann gave the medical staff report at the East Adams Rural Hospital Board meeting, Jan. 25, noting transferring patients to other hospitals in the region is a problem.

Hospitals in Spokane and the Tri-cities are near capacity, and may not be taking transfers from rural hospitals, he said.

“Unless a patient presents at the ER at Sacred Heart in Spokane, they probably can’t get a bed there” Sackmann said.

That leaves local hospital staff calling around the state – to Harbor View, Swedish and even University of Washington – looking for a place to transfer patients who are too sick to be cared for in Ritzville.

“The staff have to call these hospitals one by one” he said.

Dr. Sackmann said the number of rooms locally best suited for COVID patients are limited.

He said staff are “playing a chess game with beds” isolating COVID patients from others.

Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Pepperd agreed with the “chess board” analogy.

She said “one COVID patient can take up two beds” because of the isolation needed.

The hospital can’t have long-term patients mixed with COVID patients, and can’t fill all beds with long-term patients either. Both Pepperd and Sackmann praised the job hospital staff are doing to accommodate patients in the hospital.

Hospital District CEO Cory Fedie gave the board his report, saying “we were able to finish the year in a profitable position which hasn’t happened in some time and I am very thankful for all the hard work that staff put in to make such significant improvements.”

Fedie discussed the Mobile Clinic project, and said the district is collecting bids on vehicles. He said the district would like to start the mobile clinic “sooner than later" but also said “we have to be respectful of the providers in the communities.”

Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Polanco reported there are software implementations set for 2022, including a new accounting system to be implemented in March, a new payroll system in April, and an implementation of EPIC medical records software, with ‘go live’ set for November or December of this year.

In other business, the board approved the purchase of a remount for one of the ambulances.

An ambulance in the district is typically replaced or overhauled every five years. The last was 2017.

The bid price of $144,182 from Sawtooth Emergency Vehicles of Shepherd, MT was accepted, to remount an existing 2012 Northstar ambulance box on a new Ford F450 chassis.

The bid is for delivery in early 2023, and the ambulance will be out of service for around 60 days while the work is completed.


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