hospitals

Health care systems endured a stress test like no other over the past year as COVID-19 patients filled up hospital beds and intensive care units. Health care workers pleaded with the public to "flatten the curve," yet each surge in 2020 was worse than the next.

Now two recent studies quantify the consequences of flooding hospitals with COVID-19 patients and add urgency to continued efforts to keep cases and hospitalizations down.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the critical care charge nurse at a South Los Angeles hospital tries to send another nurse off to grab lunch. Maria Arechiga is interrupted by the beeping of an alarm, the vitals of a patient declining, organs failing.

She dons a surgical gown and unzips a plastic tarp that hangs from the doorway of a hospital room — a makeshift isolation room on this floor temporarily transformed into a larger intensive care unit to make space for the patients that just keep coming. She slips inside.

Health care workers across the country have been under tremendous strain as they grapple with surging coronavirus caseloads — with no end to the pandemic in sight.

This month, the U.S. hit a staggering new record of more than 302,500 new cases daily, according to Johns Hopkins University. Just this week, the country reached an all-time single-day high of 4,462 deaths.

Lydia Mobley, an intensive care unit nurse, has witnessed the abysmal human toll firsthand.

Cory Checketts / Unsplash

Oklahoma's coronavirus cases and positivity rate are again on the rise and health experts are again ringing alarm bells about hospitalizations.

Hospitals are nearing the point that will require them to ration care, and health experts are urging Oklahomans to ramp up safety precautions.

"As the positivity rate goes up, hospitalizations follow," said Oklahoma Hospital Association president Patti Davis in a briefing with the Healthier Oklahoma coalition on Tuesday.

She noted that the state’s positivity is at an all-time high.

Hospitals are facing the new year with new requirements to post price information they have long sought to obscure: the actual prices they negotiate with insurers and the discounts they offer their cash-paying customers.

Paramedics in Southern California are being told to conserve oxygen and not to bring patients to the hospital who have little chance of survival as Los Angeles County grapples with a new wave of COVID-19 patients that is expected to get worse in the coming days.

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency issued a directive Monday that ambulance crews should administer supplemental oxygen only to patients whose oxygen saturation levels fall below 90%.

A hospital worker donned an inflatable, air-powered costume to spread cheer in a California emergency department on Christmas Day.

But now, dozens of hospital staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the hospital said the costume may be to blame.

Hospital officials said 44 staff members tested positive between Dec. 27 and Jan. 3 in the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center. One emergency department worker who had a shift on Christmas died from COVID-19 complications.

A new federal health care rule will require hospitals to publicly post prices for every service they offer and break down those prices by component and procedure. The idea behind the Transparency in Coverage rule is to let patients choose where to go, taking price into consideration.

When the coronavirus hit the U.S., hospitals issued strict limitations on visitors. Nurses and doctors started acting as liaisons to the sick and dying for family members not allowed at bedsides. As deaths reach new daily highs, that work is not getting any easier. The emotional toil of adapting to new dynamics with patients and families at one rural hospital in Livingston, Mont., is a case study of what health care workers are grappling with all over the country.

Health care workers across the country have started receiving COVID-19 vaccines, but doctors and nurses at some of the nation's top hospitals are raising the alarm, charging that vaccine distribution has been unfair and a chaotic "free-for-all."

At hospitals in Massachusetts, New York, Arizona, California and elsewhere, medical professionals say that those with the most exposure to COVID-19 patients are not always the first to get vaccinated. And others who have little or no contact with COVID-19 patients have received vaccinations.

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