SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Two of South Dakota’s largest health systems say they expect to have enough hospital beds available to handle the coming surge of COVID-19 cases across the state. Sanford Health and Avera say cases will likely peak late this month or early next month, before leveling off.
As COVID-19 cases surge across South Dakota, both Sanford and Avera are keeping a close eye on any overcrowding at the hospitals.
“We’re progressing in our surge and certainly have capacity at this point and are always looking for ways to enhance that capacity,” Dr. Mike Wilde of Sanford Health said,
“Our total hospitalization numbers related to COVID-19 is only about 20-percent where this peaked last year, we still have got capacity, we know how to handle a lot more COVID-19 patients,” Dr. David Basel, of Avera Health said.
Dr. David Basel says Avera’s surge response plan last year has offered a “battle tested” blueprint for treating new cases of the Delta variant.
“So we can pivot pretty quickly as the numbers increase. But the toll on our communities, the toll on our workers and the toll on the individual families, that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Basel said.
The surge could also take a toll on patients with non-COVID-related health problems.
“We are concerned that as hospitals fill up with COVID patients, we’ll not be able to provide the same quality of care to our patients who are coming in with heart attacks, strokes or other illnesses,” Wilde said.
As health care workers prepare for a surge in cases, they’re calling on everyone who’s eligible to get vaccinated, as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus and ensure that there will be enough hospital beds available for everyone.
“Can we handle more cases than we have right now? Absolutely. Do we really want to? No, we would much rather see people get vaccinated and not have to go down this road, again,” Basel said.
COVID patients are also getting much younger in South Dakota: on average 20 years younger than admissions last year. More of these new cases involve children, since the Delta variant is much more contagious.
Avera and Sanford say the smaller, rural hospitals within their systems have become very good at treating serious COVID cases at their facilities and are now less likely to send those cases to their flagship hospitals in Sioux Falls.