Kootenai Health

An emergency department sign is shown Sept. 10 at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE — Kootenai Health saw another significant surge in COVID-19 patients as the Coeur d’Alene hospital hit its highest coronavirus count at 150 on Wednesday.

Jeremy Evans, chief regional operations officer and COVID-19 incident commander, said 43 patients are at the critical care level and 17 are on ventilators.

Kootenai Health had 115 COVID-19 patients this time last week.

Dr. Robert Scoggins, medical director of the hospital’s critical care unit, said it is averaging about one COVID-19 death per day.

“It’s a very hard place to work right now,” Scoggins said. “The patients are very sick and it’s just a constant struggle to take care of these patients on a daily basis. The nursing staff is tired. I think that without our federal resources that we got, I’m not sure how we would have taken care of all these patients.”

Scoggins said the number of patients on the verge of being intubated and dying is extraordinary. He said the surge has brought more pregnant COVID-19 patients to Kootenai Health’s intensive care unit. There are two pediatric COVID-19 patients at the hospital.

“It’s just incredibly difficult to describe what it’s like to take care of these patients, to be on the floor and see these patients,” Scoggins said.

He said the COVID-19 test positivity rate is very high, so he expects admissions to continue.

“The struggle for the patients, for the families, for the staff, I really wish we were out of this and were able to get past it, but I think we’ll probably be having another press conference next week with either the same numbers or more if this continues,” he said.

Scoggins said the high number of middle-aged and younger patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 struck him this week. Several of them have died, he said.

Scoggins said one patient was in the ICU for a couple days, was discharged and then returned to Kootenai Health with a serious COVID-19 complication.

“I think the one thing that people don’t realize is, even if you make it out of the hospital and go home, what we’re seeing is a lot of people are going to have chronic lung disease,” said Scoggins, adding that he believes many will need lung transplants.

He said he is afraid that the aforementioned patient might be dependent on oxygen for the rest of his life. Scoggins said health officials do not know what the long-term consequences of COVID-19 are.

Scoggins said that patient asked Scoggins when he could get the COVID-19 vaccine after he got out of the hospital.

He said it’s amazing that the hospital has been able to make room to take care of COVID-19 patients. Kootenai Health has taken COVID-19 patients from local critical access hospitals that do not have the ability to take care of those patients.

As patient volumes continue to climb, Evans said, Kootenai Health has cared for patients in overflow areas.

This article first published in The Spokesman-Review.

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