CHI head confident on hospital capacity to handle COVID-19

Dr. Cliff Robertson (Twitter screenshot)
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October 13, 2020 - 4:58pm

The head of a major hospital system serving Nebraska says he’s not worried about a surge in COVID-19 patients potentially overwhelming the state’s hospitals.


As COVID-19 cases have risen in recent weeks, so has concern about the capacity of Nebraska’s hospitals to handle patients. Dr. Cliff Robertson, head of CHI Health in Omaha, said capacity varies across the state, but the system of Catholic hospitals can handle the surge.

We’ve actually set up COVID units or a specific area in the hospital where we’ll try to keep all the COVID patients co-located. In Kearney,  Grand Island and Lincoln we actually have good capacity available for COVID patients in those three larger hospitals out in central Nebraska. In the Omaha metro, as I stated earlier, this morning we were more full. We were about 95 percent of our staffed capacity,” Robertson said.

Statewide, 31 percent of hospital beds are still available, according the to the Department of Health and Human Service’s website.  

Robertson said he’s not worried people won’t have access to medical care if the virus infection rate increases further.

“I would say no, I’m not worried about that at this point at all. If in fact we got into a real crisis which I think is what folks are mostly worried about, there are all sorts of things we could do to quickly expand our capacity,” he said.

Robertson said there are unused physical spaces that could be used, and elective surgeries could be delayed to free up more space. He says CHI could hire additional nurses from elsewhere in the country if needed.

His comments come a week after doctors at the University of Nebraska Medical Center warned that Nebraskans were becoming complacent about COVID-19 and the state could run out of hospital capacity later this year.

 

 

 

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