Harbor Regional Health requests community help to lower hospitalizations

Harbor Regional Health is asking for community help in lowering hospitalizations as COVID-19 cases and other issues are causing issues within hospitals around the state.

The local public hospital group says that the nation, state, and the facility are all being adversely affected by healthcare challenges. 

If residents need care, they say that they “should absolutely get it” and not to delay care and risk long-term health, however they add that they have been at maximum capacity for most of the last month. 

Larger hospital systems and long-term care facilities across the state have also reached capacity. 

HRH says that like those organizations, they are experiencing critical staff shortages in nursing, environmental services, respiratory therapists, and many others vital to the care of patients. 

At the same time, they are seeing a new surge in COVID hospitalizations. 

“Recently HRH has boarded as many as 16 patients who were awaiting admission to the 3rd floor or transfer to another, more appropriate, facility. Recent data suggests that between 10 and 20% of hospital beds across the state are occupied by patients who are awaiting discharge to a nursing home, adult family home or rehabilitation facility.” 

For those reasons HRH is asking you to please consider your risk to both COVID-19 and physical injury while enjoying summertime activities, lessening your chances of needing a hospital visit.

Grays Harbor County Public Health and the WA State Department of Health both support the assessment of the CDC that people in Grays Harbor County should wear a mask indoors. 

According to a study by the CDC wearing a well fitted mask or respirator was highly effective at lowering the odds of testing positive for COVID-19. If you are having COVID or other respiratory health issues, our Prompt Care clinic may be able to help you get better and avoid a lengthy wait at the ER. Please call 1-866-537-2778 or visit www.ghcares.org/prompt-care to learn more. Our Prompt Care respiratory clinic services are available to all community members.

COVID has greatly affected our community. It has also added challenges for our staff who are unable to work for 5-10 days after they test positive. We are grateful for our dedicated staff and providers, who are experiencing exhaustion from the constant stressors on our healthcare system. Even as some staff are experiencing burnout, in which they feel frustrated, disempowered, and disheartened by what feels like an intractable problem, they continue to be here to care for our community. Their heroism and compassion should be praised. For their sake, and the sake of your friends and neighbors we are asking for your help to please consider these factors as you make choices in your daily life.

They say that capacity issues are further exacerbated by low reimbursement by Medicare and Medicaid, who they say have not increased rates to keep up with costs to provide quality healthcare. 

Over the last 20 years, the number of people covered by Medicaid in Washington has grown by more than a million and we will soon experience peak retirement age for the baby-boomer population, the primary users of Medicare. Having patients receiving long-term care at hospitals amplifies this challenging situation.

They are asking for the help of lawmakers to bolster support for our healthcare system, but say that is a long-term solution, and they are asking for help from the local community now.

HRH says that they will continue to care for every person in the facility, although they say that the current situation is not sustainable. 

According to the Washington State Hospital Association, “In the first quarter of 2022, hospitals across the state had negative operating margins. Hospitals cannot continue to operate at this level with ongoing losses.” As we look to be the healthcare network of choice for our community, Harbor Regional Health recognizes how important it is to keep you informed. Your partnership in care is vital to our ability to fulfill our mission to heal, comfort, and serve everyone in our community. Thank you for your support.