Las Vegas hospital issues disaster declaration amid COVID-19 surge

Dignity Health's St. Rose Dominican San Martín campus in Las Vegas continues to provide alternate care sites and suspend elective surgeries after issuing a disaster declaration over the weekend, according to statements from the hospital.  

The hospital issued the declaration Jan. 9 as patients flooded its intensive care unit. Such a declaration indicates there are limited beds and staff to handle an increase in critically ill COVID-19 patients.

"Last weekend we experienced a surge of ICU patients which required us to call an incident command and quickly open alternative care areas," the hospital said. "Once adjustments were made, things began to normalize. The purpose of the incident command structure is to organize actions to mitigate whatever issue is at hand. It is part of a normal hospital operations emergency response plan. Incident command is established frequently to manage many different types of issues, from a planned power outage to computer down time or, in this case, surge capacity."

In a Jan. 9 letter shared with Becker's, San Martin campus executives told medical staff the hospital moved into a level 2 disaster declaration due to COVID 19, and the hospital's general capacity at that time was 121 percent. ICU capacity was 137 percent, and there were 73 COVID-19 patients, which represents 45 percent of the current hospital census, including emergency department holds. 

San Martin responded by suspending elective surgeries at least until Jan. 19, opening the postanesthesia care unit as an ICU for patients who do not have COVID-19, and opening the same-day surgery unit as a medical/surgical unit for patients who do not have the virus. The letter says the medical-surgical unit would also be dedicated to COVID-19 care, and part of the maternal child unit would be repurposed for non-COVID medical/surgical patients.

"As before, we are continuing to rely on the surgeon's judgment regarding the urgency of each case and will not delay a procedure that the surgeon feels cannot wait," executives said, adding, "We are also asking all of our medical staff to focus on working with our care coordination team to ensure that patients are efficiently moving to the appropriate level of care."

The hospital said it was unable to provide current capacity figures on Jan. 13.  A spokesperson told Becker's San Martin Campus is still flexed into alternate care sites and suspending elective surgeries, but it has seen a stabilization of ED volumes. 

The hospital said it evaluates the situation daily. 


More articles on patient flow:
Pennsylvania hospital ends surgical services
California hospital reopens after more than 2 years
Los Angeles paramedics told not to transport patients with little chance of survival

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