(NewsNation Now) – Only 4.3% of patients at a North Carolina hospital currently have COVID-19, but if cases increase, there may be nowhere to go for non-patients COVID, officials said.
The remaining beds at Duke Raleigh Hospital are occupied by people who are otherwise ill and “in need of a lot of care”, as well as patients who have not yet been placed in a qualified nursing facility, said the Dr Duke University Hospital, chief medical officer of the hospital. Lisa Pickett.
People sometimes stay in the hospital for weeks or months awaiting appropriate placement, Pickett said.
Qualified nursing facilities “have the same staffing challenges as everyone else,” Pickett said. âThere is also a dearth in our state of the facilities that meet the needs of the patients that we have. “
The North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association reports that the average nursing home has more than 21 unfilled nursing positions. A total of 12,000 nurses are needed at these facilities statewide.
The lengthy insurance process also compounded the problem, with approval sometimes only arriving after the bed is no longer available, Pickett said.
“It’s kind of a double whammy of a very contagious variant and everyone is going to be traveling or in groups and with people they don’t live with, so we expect this to spread a lot,” Pickett said.
In the meantime, the hospital could save space by postponing elective procedures – a move Pickett said she didn’t want to do “unless we absolutely have to.”