Albany County's Hospital Starts Feeling Pressure As ICU Fills Up

Oct 13, 2020

Credit Ivinson Memorial Hospital

Albany County is currently experiencing a surge in confirmed, active coronavirus cases. And one measure of the virus' spread - available intensive care unit beds - is in flux.

Laramie's Ivinson Memorial Hospital reached ICU bed capacity last week, with three of its four beds assigned to COVID-19 patients. Another three critical care beds remained open as some patients were transferred to Denver.

As of Tuesday, October 13, just one patient remained in the ICU. But the current surge of coronavirus cases in the county has many locals worried.

Nicole Rooney, the hospital's chief nursing officer, said the hospital must carefully consider the needs of its patients - as well as staffing and space limitations.

"There are times when maybe somebody needs an intensivist or a specialty that we do not provide here at Ivinson and we want to ensure that they get the best care possible," she said. "So we do on occasion send people out, whether we're at capacity or not."

Rooney said staffing resources depend on individual patient needs, which can vary greatly.

"I try to think about the long term, like how long will the patient potentially need to be in ICU?" she said. "I want to ensure that we have all of the resources for that patient for the period in time."

Ivinson Memorial Hospital also has 22 medical-surgical unit beds, of which about two-thirds are still free. The medical-surgical unit is also capable of housing patients with COVID-19 who don't require ICU treatment.

Albany County is home to the University of Wyoming, which is carrying out a vigorous testing program and experiencing isolated outbreaks.

The county's highest elected official, Commission Chair Terri Jones, recently downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. She told WyoFile fears about the virus were "politically motivated" and overblown.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor, at jvictor@uwyo.edu