A Las Vegas hospital said Wednesday that it declared a capacity crisis over the weekend, citing a surge of COVID-19 patients that overfilled its intensive care unit.
With nearly half its 147 beds occupied by coronavirus patients, St. Rose Dominican's San Martin campus in southwest Las Vegas canceled elective surgeries beginning Saturday and pressed units like post-anesthesia recovery, maternal-child and same-day surgery into service for non-COVID-19 patients, according to a hospital memo to medical staff.
“San Martin has moved into a Level 2 disaster declaration due to COVID-19,” the memo said, which means the number of patients had surpassed resources. At the time, the hospital had exceeded its overall capacity.
Patients were not turned away, hospital spokesman Gordon Absher said Wednesday, and the surge capacity plan was slated to stay in effect until Jan. 22.
“The actions we’ve taken have made things more manageable,” Absher said.
The disaster declaration was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Two other St. Rose hospitals in the area have not issued disaster declarations but also are strained, Absher told the newspaper.
“Under normal circumstances, patients might be transferred to other facilities, but in this unprecedented surge of COVID-19 patients, most other hospitals are experiencing very similar circumstances,” Absher said.
Nevada hospitals and health officials are anticipating a surge of coronavirus patients following a tourist influx and Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve gatherings.
“We're likely seeing an increase in hospitalizations ... after the holidays in December and other activities when people get together,” state COVID-19 response chief Caleb Cage told reporters Wednesday.
Nevada Hospital Association data that the Review-Journal obtained from the governor’s office through a public records request showed that 13 of the 17 acute-care hospitals in and around Las Vegas reported reaching or exceeding capacity in adult ICUs for at least one day during the first half of December.
The association on Tuesday reported 92% of licensed beds, 83% of staffed beds and 80% of adult ICU beds were occupied in southern Nevada.
The Las Vegas-based Southern Nevada Health District on Wednesday reported 737 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the total number reported in Clark County past 194,000. The district reported 42 more deaths, bring the area total to 2,716.
The district attributed the jump in reported new cases to a delay in laboratory reporting.
Statewide, health officials have tallied nearly 254,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,500 deaths.
The number of infections is thought to be higher because many people have not been tested and some people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
In another development, the state awarded the UNLV School of Public Health a $1.7 million grant to keep paying 200 students to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing with the Southern Nevada Health District.
The grant extends a program started in the fall with a $3.4 million commitment from the state to hire and train university students to identify and reach out to people who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.