Three quarters of coronavirus cases in Nebraska are rural

Some rural Nebraska counties have a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases. CHI officials were confident about the state of the hospital system on Wednesday.
Posted at 6:55 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 19:55:17-04

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KMTV) — More than three of every four COVID-19 cases can be found outside the Omaha metro and Lincoln, despite the fact that Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster Counties make up more than 55 percent of the state's population.

It could mean relocation of staff, equipment or patients, but CHI Health's St. Francis Hospital staff said they are well equipped at a press conference on Wednesday.

"It's been a surge in this part of the state, and we continue to deal with that really, really nicely," said Ed Hannon, the president of CHI Health St. Francis.

Thirteen ICU beds are occupied at the Grand Island hospital. All of those 13 patients are on ventilators.

"Our system has spent much time and effort making sure that we have the resources, the personal protective equipment, the staff, the ventilators, available to move whatever community they might be needed," said Dr. Cliff Robertson, the CEO of CHI Health.

About three quarters of CHI's COVID-19 patients are located outside the Omaha metro, Robertson said. Twenty-two are in the Omaha area.

About 49 percent of hospital beds are available across the state as of Tuesday, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services website. About 42 percent of ICU beds are available, and more than 75 percent of ventilators.

About 50 patients at CHI hospitals were on ventilators as of Wednesday. About 125 ventilators are available in the system, not counting other anesthesia machines, Robertson said.