Covid is still keeping hospitals backed up, even as new admissions stay low
Covid patients aren’t directly overwhelming hospitals right now, but ripple effects of the pandemic are keeping beds full and patients away from the care they need.Most nursing homes are limiting new patients because of staffing shortages, driving the average hospital stay up to be longer than it was pre-pandemic.In Washington, about 10% of patients currently in hospital beds no longer need hospital care, said Cassie Sauer, chief executive officer of the Washington State Hospital Association. Most are waiting for a spot at a nursing home or mental health facility.
“It’s a national phenomenon,” said Sauer, who has experienced the effects first-hand. A family member’s hospital discharge was delayed after two nursing homes she was interested in closed for Covid outbreaks.
Stephanie Schulz, a board-certified independent patient advocate, said that one hospital she works with recently had 45 patients who all needed to be discharged within the same time frame — and they were struggling to find appropriate care for all of them.
Another patient and their family were considering options that were three hours away from home.