Avera Health enters surge planning with 20% increase of hospitalizations


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – In just the last week alone, Avera Health has seen a 20% increase in hospitalizations related to COVID-19. Doctor David Basel with Avera Health says they’ve been at or above capacity on a daily basis for several weeks now.

Avera Health has seen a steep increase in hospitalizations ever since August.

“Number of patients that we had hospitalized with COVID doubled during the month of August, doubled again in the month of September, doubled yet again in the month of October and we continue to see a rise here in November,” Basel said.

With the 20% increase in hospitalizations related to COVID, Avera is now in surge planning.

“We’ve converted regular rooms to ICU rooms, we’ve even had to double up two patients in a single ICU room to be able to handle those additional patients,” Basel said.

Basel says some less urgent procedures and surgeries are delayed. However, he says it’s still important to have day-to-day surgeries and preventative care.

“We’ve also seen a disturbing trend that the public knows that we’re busy, so, you know, a year ago, patients were coming in at the first sign of chest pain or first sign of weakness or numbness with a stroke. Now we’re seeing people are waiting two or three days,” Basel said.

He wants everyone to know they should still come in when having severe symptoms, but remember to be patient with the health care workers.

Basel says we can all help the hospitals right now by continuing to mask up and social distance.

“We’ve got ample evidence that masks work and they are what keeps the hospitalizations number down so that we can handle that volume. We’re at a really critical stage right now that we can’t continue to see these numbers go up because we’re starting to run out of levers to pull and so we really do need the public’s help to get the pandemic under control,” Basel said.

Basel says the surge plan extends to all their hospitals across the four state area. He shared this message of gratitude for the staff at Avera Health with us:

“Whether that is custodial staff to doctors, nurses, everywhere in between. We are all doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times and we are just so thankful to have the wonderful staff that we have that is dedicated and been coming to work and putting their heart on the line each and every day. It’s just a wonderful thing to see,” Basel said.

Dr. David Basel with Avera Health

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