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Covid continues to back up hospitals, even with few new hospitalizations

(CNN)Covid patients are not currently overwhelming the hospital directly, but due to the spillover effect of the pandemic , Beds are full and patients are away from the care they need.

MostNursing homes limit new patients due to lack of staff,Average hospital stay It was before the pandemic that made it longer than that.

In Washington, about 10% of patients currently in bed no longer need hospital treatment, said Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association. Most people are waiting for a spot in a nursing home or mental health facility.

"This is a national phenomenon," said Sauer, who experienced the impact directly. The discharge of a member of her family was postponed after the two nursing homes she was interested in were closed due to an outbreak of Covid.

Board-certified independent patient advocate Stephanie Schultz said that one hospital she recently worked for had 45 patients who needed to be discharged within the same time frame. He said he was having a hard time finding the right treatment. All of them.

Another patient and his family were considering options at a distance of 3 hours from home.

"Many people don't want to think that Covid is still one of the reasons, but it is," Schultz said.

According to a May survey conducted by the American Medical Association, more than 60% of nursing homes are restricting new admissions due to lack of staff. Most people say it's getting worse since January.

The Pandemic "made the most difficult tasks even more difficult" because employees faced "hard work" to prevent the spread of Covid, the American Medical Association said. Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hundreds of thousands of employees have left the nursing home industry since the pandemic began.

And now, "hospitals can't discharge people as usual," he said. "They are calling to Nursing Homes, and Nursing Homes say we can't take patients because we don't have enough employees at this time to take them."

In fact, patients heading from hospitals to skilled nursing homes required an average of 4 referrals in 2019, but shared data show an average of 7 referrals in the first 5 months of 2022. The number of introductions has increased rapidly. A partnership with CNN by Well Sky, a healthcare technology company that provides products used in hospitals nationwide.

According to WellSky data, these patients were hospitalized for an average of 9 days in 2019, but are now hospitalized for an average of 10.5 days.

"Generally speaking, as a country, we cut off the tail, especially for selective surgery and discharge of pregnancy much faster, and the level of outpatient surgery has exceeded the roof. Bill Miller, CEO of Wellsky, said:

"You are seeing these bulging rates, and Covid, I I think it's the main culprit. It's still on its way through the system.

Only 4% of beds across the United States Hospitalization is the lowest in pandemic, according to data from the US Department of Health and Social Welfare. Used by Covid-19 patients because they are hovering at one of the points.

However, one in five in the United States still has the US Disease Control and Prevention Center "high Covid-19 community." I live in a county that I consider to have a "level", where there is a risk that the medical system will be overwhelmed again.

"We have capacity available if we really have another surge. Patients waiting in the hospital spend a lot of unnecessary space and staff time." Sauer said. My home has been in the hospital for more than 10 days and occupies the space available to two Covid patients. Many stays are much longer than that.

Although Covid's hospitalization rates are low, the broader healthcare system forces many inpatients to make difficult decisions.

With a pile of refusals to leave the hospital, "the family really feels like they have no choice," Schultz says. As they have to take the first facility to accept them.

"Sometimes we have to make these difficult decisions just to get rid of a hospital and to refrain from certain types of treatment," Schultz said.

Discharge delay also has a combined effect.

Such a gap can occur between the start of a patient's discharge plan and the need to find a place of care and start over.

"Reassessing at the level of care involves all areas of the healthcare team, therefore PT, OT, speech therapy, and all working with those patients. You will get the provider back, "she said. ..

Patients also need to be detained for at least a week as they can become infected with Covid in the hospital.

"It's a pretty big domino effect," she said.

Sauer says it's time to make her adjustments.

"I don't like waiting until things really get worse, like the idea of ​​asking people to take corrective action after a crisis has been reached by hospitalization," she said. Said.

"Delayed care, it's a national phenomenon. And people who can't leave the hospital, it's a national phenomenon. And lack of mental health care is also a national phenomenon. Lack of staff. I know that the hospital is under stress because I am. " "I don't want to wait for something to do until I'm in crisis," she said.