hospitals

The Mountain West is facing a hospitalization crisis, and even states that cracked down early are feeling the effects of those that didn't.

In Washington State, the frustration is palpable.


Hospitals continue to fill up across the Mountain West, and that means some patients may have nowhere to go.


Ivinson Memorial Hospital


Hospital capacity is one metric that has stayed relatively stable throughout the pandemic, but in the past month, that's changed as hospitals run out of space and staffing is stretched thinner.

Wyoming PBS

Gov. Mark Gordon expressed frustration and anger at the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on state residents.

Utah has a number of major medical facilities that often take patients from all over the Mountain West. But the state is nearing a breaking point: too many COVID-19 patients and not enough resources. That crisis in care could have a domino effect around the region.


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.

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

At the start of the pandemic, the CEO of St. John's Hospital in Jackson had a big concern. The hospital runs a Senior Living Center and Paul Beaupre feared an outbreak.

Raif via Flickr

A record 44 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state as of Tuesday, October 6. State officials and health experts have concerns about the pressure this could put Wyoming's small hospitals.

Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Daniel Bear lives in Kenilworth, Utah, a small community of around 200 people between Salt Lake City and Moab. Earlier this year, Bear suffered a woodworking accident that involved his hand and a tablesaw. It was messy.

The move came without much warning. 

“We were stunned,” Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho State epidemiologist, told the radio show Idaho Matters


Hospital finances around the nation have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes Wyoming hospitals as they had to stop providing the non-essential services that make up a huge percentage of their revenue for a period of time. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with the president of the Wyoming Hospital Association Eric Boley on the situation in our state.

Enviremedial Services

As some rural health clinics fill up and jails try to quarantine sick inmates, a military contracting company in Pinedale has come up with a solution.

The United States is seeing its highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. And nurses, doctors and other health care workers are not immune to pay cuts and furloughs.

Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET

Michelle Sweeney could barely sleep. The nurse in Plymouth, Mass., had just learned she would be furloughed. She only had four hours the next day to call all of her patients.

"I was in a panic state. I was sick over it," Sweeney said. "Our patients are the frailest, sickest group."

Sweeney works for Atrius Health as a case manager for patients with chronic health conditions and those who have been discharged from the hospital or emergency room.

Intensive care teams inside hospitals are rapidly altering the way they care for patients with COVID-19.

The changes range from new protective gear to new treatment protocols aimed at preventing deadly blood clots.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Public Domain

Wyoming hospitals are facing financial uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Most hospitals are following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to stop all non-essential services, like elective surgeries. 

Star Valley Health

Nationally, New York, South Dakota and many other states are experiencing an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients. But Wyoming isn't projected to reach its peak number of coronavirus cases until early May.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Shelby, Mont. is home to a lot of wheat and barley fields, a decent high school football team, and an Amtrak train that passes through town twice a day. It's a place where almost everyone knows everyone. 

"The people here are fantastic," says William Kiefer, CEO of the only hospital in the county that offers 24/7 emergency medical services. "There's a huge sense of community."

So when people began getting sick and even dying from COVID-19, it hit hard. 

David Maulik

At the start of the week, Tyler Kerr was one of the few people in the office at the University of Wyoming's Student Innovation Center. He and his team had a busy weekend 3D printing 115 face masks for Wyoming.

As hospitals continue to fill up with COVID-19 patients, one major health care provider in the Mountain West announced it’s cutting pay for some of its medical staff.

Rural hospital closures are becoming more common, and that’s leading to longer response times for ambulances to reach the scene of an emergency, according to a recent study.

Nearly 40 hospitals in the Mountain West are being penalized for having high rates of infections, patient injuries or other complications from hospital stays. That’s according to data released last week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


Raif via Flickr

Attempts to hack into hospitals' electronic records are increasing nationally. In response, Wyoming hospitals are beefing up their security.

The American Hospital Association has released a new report on the state of rural hospitals across the country. There’s good and bad news about how the Mountain West stacks up.

First, the bad news. When it comes to the number of mental health professionals, our region looks like a black hole.

Wyoming legislature

A Wyoming Legislative Committee is moving forward with a plan to hire consultants to perform a comprehensive study of the costs associated with Hospital Care.  

USDA

Hot Springs County Hospital in Thermopolis and Westward Heights Care Center in Lander received a combined $25.5 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. The hospitals will be using the funds to modernize and expand their facilities.

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

Wyoming’s current economic decline is beginning to effect the financial wellness of hospitals across the state. Earlier this week, Wyoming Medical Center in Casper announced they would cut 58 positions in order to balance their budget.

Wyoming's Governor and Congressional delegation have been fighting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act for years.

But with Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling ruling “Obamacare” looks stronger than ever.

Wyoming Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne of Cheyenne says that might force state legislators to finally start talking about how they could work with federal healthcare policy.

Wyoming hospitals are breathing a sigh of relief following Thursday’s United States Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

The ruling allows 20,000 Wyoming residents to keep their subsidies to purchase health insurance via the federal Marketplace.

Wyoming Hospital Association president Eric Boley says, if the ruling had gone the other way, state hospitals would have seen a dramatic uptick in uncompensated care. But Wyoming hospitals are still facing imminent financial challenges.

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