CORONAVIRUS: Newman Regional Health now consistently at or near staff-based capacity; test positivity rate shoots up to 41 percent Featured

CORONAVIRUS: Newman Regional Health now consistently at or near staff-based capacity; test positivity rate shoots up to 41 percent KVOE News file photo

Last week, Newman Regional Health started occasionally hitting staff-based capacity as the coronavirus surge began appearing at the hospital. CEO Bob Wright says that limit is getting hit a lot more consistently this week.

Wright says the nursing staff "has been running pretty fast" all week at a time when a handful of workers have been out on COVID-based quarantine -- and also at a time when the percent positivity rate for patients has shot up from 11 percent to 41 percent over the past two weeks.

As part of KVOE's 8:05 am newscast Thursday, Wright said the hospital is working to line up contract staff to help with the crush of cases. It's also freeing up extra bed space.

Wright says the hospital "will take all we can take," and if there aren't places to transfer patients it will have to keep them in the emergency department until other bed space frees up.

On a brighter note, the hospital began treatments of the monoclonal antibody infusion treatments Thursday. Pharmacy Director Ashley Edwards says the treatment from Eli Lilly and Company is for patients with mild to moderate infections, are early in their disease and are deemed at higher risk of a more severe infection or hospitalization. Ther are other criteria:

Patients will be slated for one-time, hour-long infusions between 2-6 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and they will be monitored for a time afterward for a temperature increase, blood pressure decrease, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Patients need to go to the Emergency Room entrance and will be directed to the infusion clinic.

Separately, Edwards says the hospital has also received the "Pfizer freezer" to house Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccination if the company gets emergency use authorization. The freezer can handle temperatures at -80 Fahrenheit and can hold close to 20,000 doses at a time.

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