IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is seeing a convergent of two issues colliding simultaneously that are impacting their ICU and ER volume.
Summer time usually brings an increased rate of trauma-related visits to EIRMC. These injuries usually occur to outside residents who come to the area for recreational purposes.
Colleen Niemann, EIRMC Director of Marketing and Communications says the ICU is not seeing as many out-of-town visitors this year. She says locals are recreating and sometimes injuring themselves severely.
“We’re seeing lots of accidents involving ATVs and boating, a lot more vehicle accidents, and a lot more burns," Niemann said.
She says EIRMC saw 17 burn-related injuries over the 4th of July weekend, which is well above average for the hospital.
“We’re wondering if because there weren’t fireworks displays for people to go watch, more people were doing fireworks at home and thus at a greater risk of injuring themselves,” Niemann said.
Another rise in hospitalizations is related to COVID-19. Niemman says they are starting to see stronger numbers, both in the outpatient setting and in EIRMC's facility. EIRMC has prepared surge plans for COVID-19 patients.
ICU bed space is being used for the increased number of trauma-related injuries. This is putting a strain on ICU resources that staff will need to treat COVID patients.
“At EIRMC today, those two situations are coming together at the same time and space, and having a significant impact,” Niemann said.
Niemann says going forward, healthcare workers are hoping people will follow precautions to reduce the spread of COVID and be safe and aware when recreating to keep the ICU capacity volume lower in case of a surge situation.
“Our number one concern going forward is that both a high trauma season with growing numbers of COVID in our community could come together at the same time and result in a significant number of hospitalizations," Niemann said.
Niemann says people seem to have the attitude that they will mask when the COVID situation reaches a certain level.
She wants the community to understand that the hospital is very full because of non-COVID related injuries. This situation is straining the healthcare system and causing concern if the community reaches a higher need for COVID hospitalizations.
Niemann urges the public to start masking now to prevent further spread of COVID in our community.
“Early on in the pandemic, we saw tremendous support for healthcare workers. Lots of people were wanting to reach out and deliver food and provide words of encouragement for our healthcare workers," Niemann said, "Today, what we want is that same encouragement in action, in behavior. And masking while you’re out in the community, when you cannot socially distance, is a way to show support for our healthcare workers who are very busy taking care of our neighbors.”
She says there are 6 COVID positive patients currently in the ICU and 4 more who are awaiting test results but still ill enough to require hospitalization.
EIRMC serves the Bonneville County community and surrounding areas, as well as patients from Driggs, Jackson, and Southern Montana.