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Coronavirus Coverage

A look inside the Portneuf Medical Center’s Covid-19 unit

pmc covid wing
KIFI/KIDK

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - As Covid-19 hospitalizations in Idaho tick up and up, the Portneuf Medical Center staff are feeling the effects.

PMC officials say there are still rooms available for coronavirus patients and the hospital has the supplies needed for the current situation. There are six additional rooms that can be set aside and prepared for Covid-19 patients if needed, according to the Chief Nursing Officer, Angela Treasure.

“We have the resources that we need at this point in time and we feel so blessed to have them," Treasure said.

Treasure said the hospital has not yet seen a Thanksgiving rise in hospitalizations. But as a precaution, PMC officials meets every week to monitor the hospital's capacity and prepare for potential surges.

The third floor wing, formerly the Total Joint Center for orthopedic surgery, has been transformed into a well-ventilated unit for the ever-growing coronavirus patients.

“The more people we have here, not just Covid, but other patients, it puts a strain on our staff because we’re asking them to work extra," Treasure said.

There are only a handful of traveling nurses available. That means PMC nurses, like Brandi Sargent, are taking on an extra on-call shift every month, on top of covering for quarantining co-workers.

“In my profession, Covid has taken a toll. It also takes a toll on your family life," Sargent, who has a 7-month-old baby, said.

“We’re putting in a lot of hours here every day, every week, which really takes you away from your home,” Sargent said.

Patients with coronavirus can take a lot longer to recover than someone with the average viral infection, which can mean hospital rooms are unavailable for weeks at a time. It also means hospital staff can get attached to the patients.

“They can be in these rooms for weeks, some of them for days, but some of them are here for weeks. So having that emotional side to care for can be taxing on the nursing staff,” Sargent said.

But Nurse Sargent said her and the PMC team have learned a lot about the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started, which has helped them provide better care for people.

“We have seen that influx of the number of patients in the hospital, which has been trying. But it has been so nice to see the better outcomes,” Sargent said.

With new medical discoveries and an imminent vaccine on the way, PMC staff are looking forward to brighter days. But that doesn't stop them from preparing.

“We're still working on solidifying future plans for a surge, because that’s always the unknown. We’re just trying to be ready,” Treasure said.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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