Dixie Regional discusses ‘concerning’ ICU rates, potential need for contingency staffing

Coronavirus Updates

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) — Dixie Regional Medical Center staff are asking for the help of the southwestern Utah community to curb the “concerning” trajectory of rapid growth of coronavirus cases in the five-county region, encouraging the normalization of masks as they reveal worrisome ICU hospitalization rates. 

Medical director Dr. Patrick Carroll announced to local journalists in southwest Utah in a virtual meeting Friday afternoon that staff were moments away from creating a surge ICU space. 

“This week, we have seen more COVID ICU patients than we have ever had,” Carroll said.

The facility currently has 32 ICU beds, and staff nearly opened a surge ICU space that would hold up to 89 ICU patients. Dr. Carroll said a 1/3 of the patients at that time were positive with COVID-19.

Carroll said at one point last week the number of patients on ventilators started to approach the limits for their respiratory therapy team. If they had just a few more ventilator patients, they would have needed to look at contingency staffing, he said.

“The best ICU care that we can provide is in the normal location with our normal team,” Dr. Carroll said. “We’ve spent a lot of time cross-training nurses and staff to provide ICU-level care if our volumes are surging, but we’d prefer not to do that.” 

Carroll said that from the time the area see an increase in the number of cases from the time it will see the death rate increase can take about a month, as hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths are all “lagging indicators.”

“We don’t want to find ourselves flat-footed or feeling complacent that because we haven’t seen an increase in deaths yet, everything’s okay,” Carroll said. 

He added that 20% of the individuals being tested are not symptomatic but are scheduled to have an elective surgery. Approximately 1% of those asymptomatic elective surgery patients are testing positive — what he calls the best indicator to suggest how many people are actively infected in the community right now, some without even knowing it.

“My hope is that as we share information that people can be less afraid and more empowered,” Carroll said. 

He anticipates the 5-county area to reach 2,000 COVID-19 cases by the 4th of July weekend if the area maintains its growth rate. 

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department reported 1,519 total confirmed cases on Tuesday, including:

  • 52 new cases 
  • 864 total recovered
  • 18 currently hospitalizations, which does not include any patients who are not residents of the 5-county district
  • 11 deaths: 1 new, a hospitalized male Washington County resident between the ages of 18; Includes: 1) confirmed cases with a positive COVID-19 test and no alternative cause of death noted on the death certificate or reported by the Office of the Medical Examiner (OME), 2) probable cases where the death certificate lists COVID-19 disease as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death and no alternative cause of death reported by the OME, and 3) probable cases with COVID symptoms and close contact to a confirmed case and no alternative cause of death reported by the OME or the death certificate.

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