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RivCo COVID hospitalizations climb over 200 as local hospitals see a high volume of patients amid ‘tripledemic’

Local hospitals are seeing a surge of patients during the 'tripledemic' of the flu, coronavirus, and RSV.

On Tuesday, COVID-19 hospitalizations across Riverside County surpassed 200 patients for the first time since the start of August.

As of Nov. 30, Riverside County has a total of 215 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, including 23 in the ICU. The last time Riverside County health officials updated the county's site, which was on Nov. 17, there were 108 hospitalizations and 11 in the ICU.

Riverside County updates its data every Thursday, however, last week the numbers were not updated due to Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state as of 11/30/22

The main impact at hospitals with such a high volume of patients is the bed capacity for people who need to be isolated. So now, hospitals are having to apply different strategies to manage this heavy winter surge of viruses.  

News Channel 3 reached out to officials from the Coachella Valley's hospitals to learn about what the situation is like there.

As of Nov. 22, Eisenhower Health's data shows the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since this past summer.

As chief nursing officer at Eisenhower Health, Ben Farber said valley hospitals are preparing for more patients over the coming months. Each of those three viruses has similar symptoms.  

"We are very carefully tracking respiratory illness, particularly rsv, influenza, and COVID-19," said Farber. "That limits the number of patients that we can cohort should we have the need to double patients in rooms, if they're in isolation, we're unable to do that, which limits that bed availability."

Desert Care Network, which operates Desert Regional in Palm Springs and JFK Memorial in Indio, is also seeing a rise in COVID cases locally, although Desert Regional chief quality officer Dr. Christine Langenwalter said that it's not at nearly the same level as last year.

"What's a little unique this year is that we are getting hit with a triple dose of different types of viruses. And some people are actually coming in with multiple strains of viruses as well," said Langenwalter.

Current data shows Desert Regional Medical Center has 31 COVID patients, 14 flu, and 1 RSV.

JFK Memorial Hospital has 4 COVID patients,  3 flu, and zero RSV. 

"We have to look for creative ways to maintain that distancing, even in the emergency room and waiting rooms so that you know, patients and visitors are safe," said Langenwalter.

Eisenhower Health spokesperson Lee Rice provided data showing that the hospital is experiencing a record number of influenza and RSV cases for the months of October and November. As News Channel 3 reported a little over a week ago, the hospital is seeing a five-year high in flu and respiratory virus cases.

"We are currently experiencing high patient volumes which have impacted our bed capacity – in particular, high volumes of patients requiring isolation," Rice wrote in an email to News Channel 3. "To clarify…patients who could normally be placed in a double room might have an underlying health issue which precludes them from being placed in a double room, impacting bed capacity."

Ramhoff added that DCN hospitals are also seeing a growing number of patients with serious respiratory illnesses, creating a high census in their ICUs.

According to Eisenhower Health, there have been 1,202 influenza cases at the hospital from Oct. 1 to Nov. 21. The hospital saw a 49% increase from Nov. 16 to Nov. 22, the data shows.

During that month-long period, the hospital had 57 inpatients and 1,145 outpatients.

"An inpatient is a hospital patient who, in most cases, stays in the hospital overnight and meets a set of clinical criteria. Outpatients are people who receive care or hospital services and return home the same day. However, patients who need to stay at the hospital overnight for observation are often still considered outpatients."

- El Centro Medical Center

In addition, Eisenhower Health reports 384 RSV cases during that same time period. 37 were inpatients and 347 were outpatients with 90% of cases being patients under the age of 18.

Rice said in situations where the hospital experiences a surge in patients like this, the team runs through various exercises to speed up discharge processes in a safe manner.

"Our team is working diligently to identify patients who are appropriate for discharge, and is working with skilled nursing facilities, home health care organizations and rehabilitation facilities for patients requiring those services," Rice wrote. "Fortunately, through those efforts we made significant progress in opening beds this morning to continue our flow and throughput from our ED."

Rice assured the community that it is safe to come to Eisenhower Health's Emergency Department.

"We continue to be open and available to treat patients, and continue creating bed capacity in order to limit wait times for admitted patients as much as possible"

- lee rice, eisenhower health spokesperson

Health officials remind everyone to take the necessary precautions during this very busy flu/cold season. That includes washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, getting your flu vaccines and covid boosters, wearing a mask when visiting stores or attending indoor events with large groups of people. And if you're feeling ill, stay home.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

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Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

Jesus Reyes

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.

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