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ER full, surgeries postponed at Everett hospital amid surge of COVID-19 patients

While COVID-19 case counts are declining in the state, the numbers are still higher than in other points of the pandemic.

EVERETT, Wash. — Hospitalizations in Washington state continue to be on the downward trend.

The summer months of 2021 saw the highest peaks of the coronavirus pandemic, but recent data shows numbers dropping with the temperature outside, but that doesn't mean emergency rooms and ICUs are out of the woods yet.

Long lines at the emergency room at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett caused the hospital to cancel surgeries this week. The hospital treated the country’s first COVID-19 patient in January 2020.

"It's disappointing we're still in this position,” said Darren Redick, CEO of Providence Northwest Service Area.

This week, more than a year and a half after that first COVID-19 patient, the Everett hospital has been so full surgeries had to be postponed and patients were waiting for beds. The hospital had about 40 patients waiting in their emergency department on Wednesday, and 30 patients on Thursday, according to the hospital.

"As of yesterday, we've opened up a six-bed satellite ICU to care for additional ICU patients, because we're out of bed capacity in our normal ICU,” Redick explained.

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Providence isn't the only hospital experiencing a shortage of beds for patients.

"We do find ourselves with our back against the wall very frequently,” said Mark Taylor, a nurse and director of operations for the Washington Medical Coordination Center at Harborview.

The Washington Medical Coordination Center works to find space for patients when hospitals don't have room for them.

During a meeting this week, Taylor explained that while the coordination center's number of calls decreased about 50% since August's peak numbers, hospitalizations are still higher than they were in previous months.

"Hospitals are still extremely full. There are pockets of facilities that find themselves with very high challenges and difficult management decisions that need to be made for how they're going to care for the number of patients in their hospital,” Taylor said.

"Even though they're going down our case rate is still very high. And as a result, we're still seeing a large number of patients coming needing hospital care and ICU care that are seeing COVID,” said Redick.

Redick told KING 5 Providence is still treating all patients that walk in the door, but they’re warning of long wait times.

“I don't think anybody believed that we were going to be in this situation in the fall. So, I think we still need to remember kind of where we've been and where we're going and use good judgment as we move forward,” Redick said, “And frankly, I think, with our capacity concerns, thinking about what kind of risky behaviors you might be doing, that could land you in the hospital, you should really think twice about.”