Gov. Inslee asks federal government to step in, help state with hospital capacity crisis

Sep 20, 2021, 11:52 AM
Gov. Jay Inslee...
President Joe Biden speaks with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee via teleconference in July. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Gov. Jay Inslee has sent a letter petitioning the federal government to provide aid for hospitals currently dealing with staffing shortages and increases in COVID patients.

Idaho crisis impacts Washington hospitals’ ability to care for patients

The petition was addressed to the White House’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, noting that Washington state hospitals “are currently at or beyond capacity” thanks to the continued prevalence of the delta variant.

“Once the Delta variant hit Washington state, COVID-19 hospitalizations skyrocketed,” the governor’s letter reads. “From mid July to late August, we saw hospitalizations double about every two weeks. The hospitals have surged to increase staffed beds and stretch staff and have canceled most non-urgent procedures, but are still over capacity across the state.”

As of late last week, the state Department of Health reports that over the most recently measured seven-day period, 23% of hospital beds in Washington were occupied by patients with COVID-19. That marks the highest rate the state has seen over the course of the entire pandemic, as well as a sizable increase over the seven-day average of 4.5% the state saw in mid-July.

On Monday, the Washington State Hospital Association also reported that while hospitalization rates are beginning to fall, that’s largely due to the fact that death rates have increased, with 30 COVID-related deaths reported in just the last 24 hours.

“This is despite giving people the best care that we have for COVID, which is still, honestly, not very good,” WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer said.

How would crisis standards of care be enacted in Washington?

Combined with reports of staffing shortages as well as burnout among existing health care workers, Gov. Inslee is hoping the federal government can “provide Washington with medical staff resources to help meet staffing needs in hospitals and long-term care facilities.”

The governor is also asking the Department of Defense to deploy additional medical personnel of its own, citing a promise from President Biden to make more clinical teams available to states.

“That assistance would be of significant value in Washington state,” Inslee noted.

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Gov. Inslee asks federal government to step in, help state with hospital capacity crisis