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Central Coast hospitals are experiencing sharp increase in COVID-19 patients

SVMH COVID unit
Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION) As coronavirus numbers spike across the country, locally hospitals are noticing a concerning trend too.

“We’re seeing probably the most pressure we’ve seen to date with respect to this pandemic," Santa Cruz Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said. "There’s every indication this will be at least double the summer surge.”

Santa Cruz currently has 20 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals and Monterey County has 48.

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital tells KION last week its COVID unit had 31 patients. The hospital's COVID operational chief Carla Spencer said Salinas’s summer surge was largely ag workers, now it's a wider range of areas and demographics. The most concerning trend for hospitals is positive residents over 65.

“That’s alarming, because the older they are the more medical problems they have and the higher the chance they’re going to require hospitalizations,” Spencer said.

The hospital has also noticed COVID positive patients are waiting too long to check into the hospital.

“If they're finding it more difficult to breathe, or they're just not improving and things are getting worse; that's the time when they should come in before it's too late,” Spencer said.

SVMH says they’re well equipped for a steeper surge, and hospitals around the county coordinate on a weekly basis.

In Santa Cruz, an alternative care site at the Roadway Inn in Watsonville can be ready to roll in just days--if it becomes necessary. That would be for non-COVID patients with less serious conditions.

As hospitals face pressure from COVID-19, it also means less room for other emergencies like surgeries and heart attacks.

"We're going to overwhelm our limited health care capacity, and the hospitals are not going to be available for all the things that we expect them to be available for," Ghilarducci said. "This can be stopped though. I want every one to understand this doesn’t take any magic. It means following the precautions we’ve been talking about for months.”

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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