Southern Colorado hospitals continue to feel strained forcing some to operate on divert status

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SOUTHERN COLORADO— Hospitals across Colorado are working around the clock as hospitalizations continue to increase, forcing St. Mary Corwin and Parkview hospitals in Pueblo to operate on divert status.

Centura Health Communication Field Advisor Kevin Massey said the status means that the two hospitals are rotating in and accepting EMS patients in order to ensure that both can offer appropriate care to all in need. Massey said the move is temporary and was issued earlier this week, but that it’s not uncommon for hospitals to use this status.

“Our hospitals across the state are incredibly busy. We see both our ICU bed capacity and acute care bed capacity are over 90%. That’s been on a steady increase since August. It’s the busiest and the biggest stretch for our capacity we’ve seen throughout the pandemic,” said Colorado Hospital Association Senior Director of Communications Cara Welch.

Welch said COVID-19 trends continue to move in the wrong direction. In Southern Colorado, El Paso County is leading the state in hospital admissions. The count is the largest in the state but fails to lead in COVID-19 vaccination rates. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 71.1% of people living in El Paso County have received one or more doses of the vaccine, but Welch said not all hospitalizations are related to COVID.

“Our capacity and hospitalization numbers are, in total, higher, so what we are seeing now are more types of hospitalization for other reasons. So, it’s not all COVID,” said Welch.

Earlier this year, Tier I of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center was activated, meaning that patients can be transferred to hospitals across the state if the hospital they’re currently at doesn’t have room or can’t meet their needs.

CHA said if current hospital trends continue, subsequent tiers will be activated–a first in this pandemic.

“What that would look like is one transfer center would be responsible for managing all of the patient transfers within a certain region of the state or all across the state in its entirety,” said Welch.

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