‘Don’t think we’re there yet’: Local hospitals prepared to perform elective surgeries, worry about fewer restrictions

SPOKANE, Wash. — The governor says Washington is on its way out of the pandemic. While everyone wants to see that happen, local hospitals are worried it may be too soon to ease all the COVID restrictions.

“It’s not like we’re out of the pandemic,” said Dan Springer. He’s the Chief Operating Officer at Multicare’s Deaconess Hospital.

The governor, however, says we’re nearly there. That’s one of the reasons he dropped the elective surgery postponement. Those surgeries can resume on Feb. 18.

“I believe the state of Washington can now start to move forward making this transition,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

He says COVID cases are declining statewide and expects Washington to see very low numbers in March. Inslee’s been watching global trends which show omicron cases dropping drastically after reaching its peak. While Springer is a little nervous for the transition, he says they are prepared to perform surgeries again.

“Physicians are ready to be able to take care of their patients,” he added. “We’re ready to be able to do our jobs and be able to get people the care they need when they need it.”

He wants to see the state turn the corner but also doesn’t want to see us regress. The governor has also already announced an end to the outdoor mask mandate on Feb. 18. Inslee said he’ll release the date for when the indoor mandate will drop in the coming weeks. Springer is hopeful but isn’t sure if now is the best time to loosen all the restrictions.

“I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m very hopeful, and I want it just as much as everybody else, so I’m keeping and fingers crossed,” Springer said. “Hopefully, we’ll continue on this right trend.”

He says COVID cases at Deaconess are plateauing which is a good thing, but people are still coming in sick with the virus. The governor said he’s confident in easing restrictions because of the trends they’re seeing across the state.

“COVID hospitalizations are now declining on both sides of our state,” Inslee added. “That’s great news.”

Springer says Eastern Washington’s Omicron peak is a bit behind the west coast. In addition to a high patient load, the healthcare staffing shortages aren’t fixed either. Because of this, freeing up beds at the hospital is key.

“Across the board, we’re trying to really get folks out of the hospital and receive the care in another setting,” Springer said.

The Department of Social and Health Services is bringing extra staffing to Royal Park Health and Rehabilitation in Spokane. These resources will free up beds so hospitals can care for more people, especially with more patients being able to come in for surgeries.

“It’s not just the operating room but the full facility that we have to plan for and make sure it’s all operating together in an ideal capacity to be able to take care of patients,” Springer added.

Having patience in this pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone.

“It’s been so hard to predict what’s next,” said Springer.

As Washington prepares to turn the the chapter on COVID, those at the frontline hope it isn’t too soon.

“We do see spread every time we get back in a place of comfort, then another round comes, another variant affects us,” said Springer.

No matter if Governor Inslee lifts the indoor mask mandate in the coming weeks, Springer says hospitals will remain cautious. He doesn’t expect healthcare facilities to stop requiring masks anytime soon.

READ: Bill to ease patient loads for healthcare workers advances to Senate

Source: KXLY.com