- Northern Sierra Hospital Leaders, Hospital Council
In the Northern Sierra, the latest surge in COVID-19 cases is full-on with no clear peak in sight. In many areas of the far north, hospitals are either full beyond licensure or as full as they can be while staying in compliance with nurse/staff ratios. For this surge, workforce remains the biggest challenge for both clinical and non-clinical staff.
For now, hospital leaders have found ways to keep most beds staffed including expanded LVN roles/team nursing and, for some, the securing of vitally needed staff from their Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator and/or the state. Emergency department impacts have been significant as throughput issues remain, and many hospitals are reporting an inability to transfer patients. There is also difficulty getting non-nursing staff such as imaging and catheter lab techs, surgical staff, and others. Many in administration and in functions that support clinical departments are also out due to COVID-19 exposure. State-designated surge hospitals in the Northern Sierra are helping the situation significantly, and the hope is that state provision of staff will continue. However, a few hospitals have reported that they are curtailing elective procedures as a result of this current surge.
In addition, housing for traveler nurses remains a challenge for many hospitals in the Northern Sierra. Mayers Memorial has already purchased a home that can house five travelers and is in talks to buy a fishing lodge that can house up to 21 people. This is necessary as the supply of housing is limited in rural areas and it’s key to be able to house staff in the community.