Health care inequities add to frustration as hospitals face fifth COVID surge

1/15/2022 7:14:00 PM

The struggles of safety-net hospitals during the fifth COVID-19 surge reflect long-standing inequities in Chicago’s health care community.

On a recent morning at Loretto Hospital on Chicago’s West Side, beds and recliners were lined up in the hallway of the emergency department. All 14 rooms in the ER were full, and the hospital needed a place to put patients during the afternoon rush.

The struggles of safety-net hospitals during the fifth COVID-19 surge reflect long-standing inequities in Chicago’s health care community.

Other hospitals might be able to help handle the ER overflow, but redirecting patients isn’t easy. The state has stopped Loretto from diverting ambulances to other hospitals, and the state also hasn’t forced hospitals with more room to take more patients to even out the burden.

Loretto’s struggles are just one sign of the way long-standing inequities in Chicago’s health care community are affecting COVID-19′s fifth surge. While hospital executives have»Gov. J.B. Pritzker has asked, but not ordered, hospitals to delay nonemergency surgeries to help keep beds open. The state also said it has sent or is set to send roughly 2,000 state-funded workers to select hospitals across Illinois.

Read more: Chicago Tribune »

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All hospitals are struggling. Perhaps Loretto should have saved the vaccines for their patients rather than given them to those who had connections to hospital leadership. Do you have to be morbidly obese to work there? THATS OK ROB THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO COVER THE COST OF MORE ROOMS You guys provide a lot of data that the article openly stated the data shown to be proven wrong or inaccurate. Does any other industry allow so much incorrect/inaccurate federal data submitted

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at 5:00 AM On a recent morning at Loretto Hospital on Chicago’s West Side, beds and recliners were lined up in the hallway of the emergency department.Santa Clara County health officials discuss priority COVID testing Dr.That’s the highest 21-day average at any point during the pandemic, ODH Director Dr.The court’s conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule on U.

All 14 rooms in the ER were full, and the hospital needed a place to put patients during the afternoon rush. One patient was already lying in the hall. George Han discuss priority COVID testing amid the omicron surge. He’d been in the ER eight days, unable first to get a room upstairs and then, after he’d healed enough, to find a care facility that would take him. The state has been averaging nearly 2,000 cases per 100,000 residents, roughly 20 times higher than the 100 cases per 100,000 population that the U. Other hospitals might be able to help handle the ER overflow, but redirecting patients isn’t easy.m. The state has stopped Loretto from diverting ambulances to other hospitals, and the state also hasn’t forced hospitals with more room to take more patients to even out the burden. Nor has Congress.

Registered nurse Sandra Weeks confers with other members of the Loretto Hospital medical staff about patients in the emergency department on Jan. Last week, hundreds of San Francisco teachers called for a sickout to demand more on-the-job protections. “The numbers clearly demonstrate just how easily omicron is spreading,” Vanderhoff said. 12, 2022. The ER had eight patients on beds and recliners in the hallway Wednesday afternoon, with all 14 rooms full. The district will provide an additional 10 days of COVID sick leave for employees and weekly coronavirus testing will continue to be offered to students and staff. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune) The crammed hallways at the Austin hospital led the union representing some of its health care workers to hold a news conference urging other facilities to voluntarily accept transfers of patients from financially strapped safety-net hospitals like Loretto. The state has seen a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations this month, including 6,607 on Thursday, according to data from the Ohio Hospital Association. “We just don’t have the room,” said Wellington Thomas, an ER technician. 13, 2022 8:25 a. More than 208 million Americans, 62.

Loretto’s struggles are just one sign of the way long-standing inequities in Chicago’s health care community are affecting COVID-19′s fifth surge. While hospital executives have joined others in saying they want to close the gaps, that ambition can sometimes seem at odds with the competitive nature of the health care industry in the Chicago area. SF cancels MLK march and parade San Francisco's annual tribute to Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. “Our hospitals are swamped,” Vanderhoff said, adding that many have needed to postpone elective surgeries and other procedures to preserve bed space. [Don't miss] Gullivers Pizza, open since 1965 and famous for its Chicago-style pan pizza and antiques, closing Sunday » “I just feel like it’s one of the ways where there’s a lot of talk about racial equity, but in some of the ways that could actually be affected, by helping poorer neighborhoods, it’s just not happening,” said Claire Laurier Decoteau, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has studied health inequity. It’s also difficult for the public to know, in real time, which hospitals are in the most dire situations. The spike in COVID cases has shut down this year's MLK march and parade, which was scheduled to take place on Monday. What government data exists for each hospital comes from a snapshot taken a week or so earlier, and the Tribune found it can contain errors. Furthermore, the sheer number of cases in Ohio is causing hospitalizations to skyrocket, said Dr. Sponsored.

Still, that federal data broadly illustrates gaps in available space, with some hospitals overflowing with patients and others, though busy, with open beds. The cancellation comes just days after organizers of the MLK Parade in Hayward said their event is being postponed. Gov. J. 12, 2022 4:20 p. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is also seeing a surge of patients in its emergency room, which adds to the strain from the higher number of patients who are being admitted, said Dr.B. Pritzker has asked, but not ordered, hospitals to delay nonemergency surgeries to help keep beds open. Oakland Unified reaches tentative COVID-19 safety agreement with teacher's union Oakland Unified School District has reached a tentative agreement with the Oakland Education Association Wednesday that focuses on improving COVID safety as well as compensation.

The state also said it has sent or is set to send roughly 2,000 state-funded workers to select hospitals across Illinois.” Bachmann said Ohio Gov. Data from earlier this month suggests many of these workers did go to hospitals that had been reporting problems. 14 and providing an extended sick leave for those who contract COVID or are quarantined by the District due to exposure, through the end of the year. But the Tribune also found some hospitals reporting serious space issues didn’t receive help at that time, while some workers went to bigger hospitals that reported having more room. Medical technician Vance Roberson, right, puts a blanket over patient Moira Brownlee in a recliner where she had been waiting in the emergency department for about five hours on Jan. 3 p. Hospitals are also struggling with the fact coronavirus testing kits have become harder to come by as demand has soared nationwide. 12, 2022, for admission to Loretto Hospital.

(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune) Pritzker’s administration has said it’s doing its best to coordinate with hospitals while also praising health care workers dealing with staggering patient loads. Oakland to require proof of vaccination at some indoor businesses The City of Oakland will require proof of vaccination for people 12 years and older to enter some indoor public locations, beginning Feb. “They need help,” Pritzker told reporters Wednesday, “and I’m doing everything that I can to support them as they tackle this latest surge.” On Wednesday, DeWine told.” Gaps in available beds Each day, most hospitals fill out online reports to the federal and state governments listing the number of beds they can staff and the number of beds occupied by patients. This includes all establishments where food or drink is served, entertainment venues, gyms, senior adult care facilities, City Hall and large indoor events. The state then totals the data each day for each region to see what percentage of beds remains available, in both inpatient wards and intensive care units. The state considers regions to be stressed if the rates fall below 20%, which has been the case in all of the Chicago area for weeks, if not months. Patrons entitled to a qualified medical exemption must provide verification of their exemption and proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

State officials won’t release daily data for each hospital, saying the law doesn’t force them to release it and, regardless, they worry that changing numbers would confuse the public. The federal government does release some figures for each hospital, and, though the Tribune found errors, the data on 59 Chicago-area hospitals shows bed availability can vary.m. [Don't miss] Chicago cites 10 restaurants, 6 other businesses for violating vaccine requirement order » According to the data, nearly half of hospitals reported more than 20% of their adult ICU beds were available in the seven-day period ending Jan. 6." In a statement provided to ABC on Wednesday, the agency said the goal is for Americans to have"the best and most updated information to choose what mask is right for them. Meanwhile, nearly a fourth averaged less than 5% availability.

That difference generally held true even when looking at the larger numbers of inpatient adult beds. In the meantime, the CDC says,"CDC continues to recommend that any mask is better than no mask, and we encourage Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the same week, five hospitals reported no available ICU beds: Mount Sinai, St. Bernard and South Shore hospitals in Chicago, along with Amita Health St.m. Francis Hospital Evanston and Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital Elgin. The Chronicle spoke to that engineer, who is also a member of the Alphabet Workers Union.

“All the other facilities that we have called, when we’ve tried, they’re all so full they can’t accept our transfers due to space,” said Rosenda Barrera, chief nursing officer at Amita St. Francis. The company is saying something else. “They’re having the same struggles too.” But the Tribune found the data is not well vetted. Jan. Stroger Hospital, for example, was shown for weeks as completely empty.

Nobody caught that mistake until a reporter asked.m. NorthShore University Health System said it’s not sure why federal data showed its Evanston hospital had so many inpatient and ICU beds open, since it’s been running at or near capacity. Loretto also said it’s busier than the data suggests. City council tonight approved a mandate that requires people to provide proof they had a booster shot in order to attend big events at city-owned facilities, including the SAP Center and the San Jose Convention Center. [Don't miss] Hot sauce tasting: The ultimate guide to America’s most popular brands » Rush University Medical Center told the Tribune it had about 20% of its staffed inpatient beds and 33% of its ICU beds available Thursday. Federal data also indicates Rush has had some open beds. The new rule also applies to venue staff, and it requires city employees to get a booster, if eligible.

But a hospital representative said those numbers came after Rush extended its ER into its lobby and sent some patients, who were awaiting discharge, to another Rush facility. “I don’t want to give the picture that Rush has all these empty beds,” said Angelique Richard, Rush’s chief nurse executive.m. “I do think we have put forth some creativity around how to expand and create capacity quickly while facing some of the same things that everybody else is facing.” Long-standing inequities Even with some of the federal figures in dispute, there’s little debate that some hospitals are faring worse than others, part of a generations-long racial and ethnic divide researchers have documented in access to quality health care. The county has confirmed as many as 866 cases in a seven-day period since the omicron variant arrived in Napa, Public Health Officer Dr. One reason for that divide: Hospitals can better grow and expand by chasing more lucrative groups of patients, not necessarily the sickest or neediest ones.

A purple hexagon marks a patient's room as positive for COVID-19 in Loretto Hospital's emergency department on Jan. That figure outpaces the county's previous one-week peak of 788 cases during last winter's surge. 12, 2022. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune) The Chicago hospital landscape includes large hospital systems, facilities tied to universities, and others that struggle to operate independently in lower-income neighborhoods. 10:30 a. That mix has affected hospitals’ options in adapting to the pandemic crush. [Don't miss] In the land of deep-dish, Paper Thin Pizza aims to be the thinnest crust in Chicago » Hospitals that are part of larger systems say they have been able to transfer patients among their own facilities to try to even things out, while bigger hospitals have looked for ways to expand capacity. San Francisco issues new testing guidelines for health care providers New San Francisco guidelines require all large health care facilities to provide access to COVID-19 testing for people with symptoms and people who have been a close contact within 24 hours of a request from a member patient.

But for safety-net hospitals, the options can be more limited. Transferring patients to less busy hospitals carries risks: A patient could get sicker on the ride there, or a hospital could run out of space in the time it takes to complete the paperwork and travel. The city also announced more support for SFUSD, including providing more masks for students and teachers, and adding to the District supply of rapid antigen tests to support educators who are in quarantine being able to test back into the classroom. Some fuller hospitals, such as Mount Sinai and Holy Cross, said they aren’t often transferring patients elsewhere to make room, partly because bed availability across hospitals is so tight and constantly in flux. Some transfers do happen. 5 a. Rush, for example, said it has approved the majority of the roughly 20 requests it has averaged each day since October.

NorthShore said it has limited transfers from hospitals outside its own system but still takes some on a case-by-case-basis. Hayward Unified returns to remote learning Today the Hayward Unified School District is going back to remote learning for one week. Still, Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas, said more transfers could help Loretto and other safety-net hospitals. “When poor hospitals need to transfer patients, they all too often find that richer health systems . Making the switch to online learning means the district risks losing $2... Students received Chromebooks yesterday.

won’t take them,” he told reporters at Wednesday’s news conference. [Don't miss] How to smoke brisket, the Texas crutch way » Kelley singled out Northwestern Medicine, a health system anchored by the region’s largest hospital, Northwestern Memorial, which confirmed it has paused taking transfers from hospitals outside its system. Jan. The most recent federal data shows Northwestern Memorial averaged nearly 200 open inpatient beds of the 940 it could staff, and about 24 of 115 ICU beds. That equates to about 21% availability for each metric, slightly above the state threshold signaling stress.m. Wellington Thomas, lead medical technician in Loretto Hospital's emergency department, performs a rapid COVID-19 test on a patient who had been waiting in a recliner next to the nursing station for about five hours on Jan.

12, 2022. to temporarily ban large indoor, outdoor gatherings Sonoma County health officials issued a temporary restriction Monday banning large gatherings as omicron variant spikes in the community. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune) Northwestern spokesman Christopher King said that in response to the latest surge the hospital has rescheduled 65% of surgeries and procedures that would require an inpatient bed. And he cautioned the federal numbers are a snapshot in time that don’t reflect the fact that some beds are open only to certain types of patients, like for psychiatric care or women’s health. The order will take effect at 12:01 a. King said Northwestern serves many lower-income Chicagoans and communities, noting that more than 40% of the hospital’s COVID-19-positive inpatients live on the city’s South and West sides. State actions When the pandemic hit nearly two years ago, Pritzker issued an executive order directing all hospitals to cancel nonemergency surgeries. on Wednesday, Jan.

In that order, he also directed hospitals “to render assistance in support of the State’s response to the disaster.” Now, with hospitals saying they’re in even worse shape than 2020, the governor has not gone so far. 11. He recently .