Delta variant patients fill up WA hospitals, causing worry

SEATTLE — Officials at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said they were growing increasingly concerned about a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state.

Fueled by the spread of the delta variant, an average of 1,500 new cases have been reported each day since July 29.

Moreover, DOH officials said hospital occupancy is at the highest levels seen to date in 2021.  Currently, more than 600 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with overall hospitalizations increasing 20% from July 25.

Health care workers said unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of patients in hospital ICU units.

“Many of them didn’t have to be here and didn’t have to get this sick,” said Valeri Hodson of Providence Everett.  “For some people, it’s a matter of life or death.”

Hodson reported that her caseload has quadrupled since the start of July, largely because of those coming down with the delta variant.

“Everybody is working three times as hard as they normally would,” she told KIRO 7.  “You feel like you probably have a job load of three people at the very least.”

At Swedish Medical Center, Dr. Mark Sullivan can definitely relate.

There are currently 10 COVID-19 patients within his ICU division and the number is increasing every day.

“It leads to burnout and frustration and people choosing to leave health care for their own sanity and wellness,” Sullivan said.

As COVID-19 patients fill up ICU beds at both Swedish and Providence Everett, KIRO 7 learned plans are in place for overcrowding.

That’s because if things keep on getting worse, both places plan to set up makeshift ICU beds in other parts of the hospital.

“As those COVID numbers increase, and you come to expect that a certain number of them will need ICU care, your capacity drops even further,” said Sullivan.

“We get creative, and we send nurses to where they need to go.  It’s a big jigsaw puzzle on a daily basis,” Hodson noted.

In comparing Providence Everett to Swedish Medical Center, KIRO 7 found that Swedish is faring better so far.

Out of 124 ICU beds throughout Swedish’s entire system, 10 are currently taken up by COVID-19 patients.

Meantime at Providence, the ICU is full.