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Hospitals say they're near capacity; Gov. Ricketts' transfer center isn't working

Physicians say non-COVID patients suffer
Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 16, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska hospitals say their capacity is at a breaking point amid rising COVID cases throughout the state.

"I think we are definitely at capacity. We’ve really been beyond what the comfortable capacity has been at several weeks now and I think the next concern is, do we have to go into what we term crisis capacity? Where we have to make decisions no one wants to make about triaging health care resources. Who doesn’t get treated, who does get treated — those are things we don’t want to do and that’s why it’s important to keep our capacity," said Dr. Jim Nora, Medical Director, Infection Prevention at Bryan Health.

Physicians say when hospitals are at capacity non-COVID-related patients suffer.

"It really makes it hard to have space for patients who have other needs and those needs will continue to be there. Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean people don’t have other medical problems and need access to the hospital," Nora said.

Earlier this month Governor Ricketts announced the transfer center for hospitals; a 24-hour call center that helps locate available beds for patients needing a higher level of care. Hospitals say the center doesn't have the ability to transfer unstable patients.

"Basically, you are still having smaller hospitals in the region calling directly trying to get transfers, so that might have some toll, but they’re not being helpful in the transferring and finding a home for unstable patients which many of the COVID patients or the type of transfers that happen at a center like Bryan are typically unstable in one capacity or another," said Bob Ravenscroft, Vice President of Advancement at Bryan Health.

In a statement to 3 News Now, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said:

If a patient is one of whom it has been determined that every second matters meaning, due to the criticality of the patients status, transport might pose a delay in treatment that would likely result in an imminently fatal outcome the transfer center will not transfer. However a patient can be in critical condition and still stable enough to transport.

The transfer center continues to working with Nebraska medical facilities to ensure safe transport and adherence the requirements that have been outlined to the providers.
Khalilah A. LeGrand, Ed.D., Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

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