Thankfully, most of the folks who get COVID-19 won’t die from it. We’ve learned a lot about how to medically manage the disease, new treatments are coming online, and the death rate is solidly below 1%. That’s the good news. Bad news is plenty of folks who will (probably) ultimately survive are now filling our hospital. They now occupy at least seven different departments in the hospital here in Kalispell, having long ago exceeded the capacity of the dedicated isolation ward. But most will survive.
What should concern everyone in the region is the fact that, with the hospital full to capacity and staff and resources stretched thinner than ever before, if you come in with an emergency, a car crash, appendicitis, a suspicious lump, or just an average heart attack, you will not be getting the level of care that was until recently standard in this country. Will you still get a bed? Yes, but probably not in the department that specializes in your problem; instead it will be over-nighting in the ER. Will you have a nurse? Yes, probably, though, they may not be of the specialist type you might have had otherwise. And a doctor will see you … eventually. But with paramedics and EMTs, rad techs and phlebs, CNAs and all staff stretched far beyond anything we’ve ever dealt with, people must now grapple with the reality that you will have worse care because we haven’t the resources to do more. Hopefully it will be good enough, when your hour of need comes. Consider your actions and behaviors accordingly, either in your efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, or to reduce your (or your loved ones) risk of needing medical care of any sort any time soon.
Jared Sibbitt, RN
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