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Central Coast hospitals deal with surge in patients due to respiratory illnesses

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION-TV)- Hospitals across the Central Coast are seeing a surge of people with one of three different respiratory illnesses. 

It has been keeping Kimberly Moulton busy. She's an Emergency Physician at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.

“Well, we've been very busy, actually,” Moulton said. “We're seeing record-breaking volumes multiple days in our emergency department recently. I've heard that it's 2 to 3 times what we would usually be seeing this time of year.”

Because of the pandemic, hospitals across the Central Coast have been prepared in case something like this happens.

How exactly have these hospitals prepared for this situation? Chief Medical Officer of Dominican Hospital Gregory Whitley explains how his hospital has adapted.

“We have limited elective surgeries a little bit, so increased capacity that way,” Whitley said. “We've also expanded our pediatrics department by 20%, which the state recommended.”

Salinas Valley Memorial and Natividad Hospital are preparing alternate care sites for patients with respiratory issues. Emergency Department Doctor Valerie Vigil says they’ve had theirs for awhile.

“We still use those tents all the time,” Vigil said. “Actually, our capacity has been consistently higher than actually the numbers before COVID. So we did open those up for COVID, but we've maintained use of them, and we really appreciate everybody's patience with that.”

For patients who don’t have respiratory illnesses and still need emergency treatment, hospitals will still make them a priority.

“You know, other, you know, emergency situations and other necessary procedures don't just stop just because we're having a surge in our respiratory cases,” Moulton said. “So absolutely, we need to keep treating all patients who are walking through the door and who need our help.”

Whitley said for Dominican Hospital, “We are committed to seeing everybody if someone wants to that needs to come to the emergency department for care.”

Vigil welcomes people who have worries about any medical questions or concerns.

“If you have any questions, though, if you're feeling like I have chest pain, I don't know if this is normal, I'm feeling a little short of breath, my child looks a little short of breath, they look like they're not running around like they should, come on in,” Vigil said. “We are happy to evaluate you.”

Watsonville Community Hospital also responded to KION, asking him if they’ve seen their staff handle the surge in hospital visits well.

Hospitals across the Central Coast credit their staff for handling the patients with great care.

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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46

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