How St. Joseph Hospital is preparing for a potential surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations


EUREKA, Calif. (KIEM) — California broke a record over the weekend after reporting the highest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic first began. Local hospitals are preparing for a potential increase in hospitalizations here on the North Coast as well.

“The hospital is on full alert, the health system is on full alert. We’re watching this across the country, we’re watching it in our own community. I think it is important to recognize that front line health care givers and first responders have really been in this mode since February, March,” according to Chief Medical Officer for St. Joseph Health Dr. Travis Sewalls.

While Covid-19 hospitalizations are on the rise across the state of California, St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka has been preparing for a potential increase since the beginning of this year. This includes additional training for health care staff, stocking up on PPE, and increasing the number of beds available for Covid-19 patients.

The hospital currently has 32 beds in the respiratory care unit, 12 beds in the ICU, and 38 ventilators on site. In partnership with the Humboldt County Public Health Department, there is also the alternate care site at Redwood Acres that can be used if needed.

“That space has 90 beds should we need to activate that. That may not be something we need at all, but it is a contingency plan,” according to St. Joseph Health Chief Executive Dr. Roberta Luskin-Hawk.

Dr. Luskin-Hawk is urging the community to remain vigilant when it comes to wearing a mask and avoiding gathering with people outside your household. She says that keeping the number of cases down can help make sure that our local hospitals are able to offer the best care possible.

“Our best way to protect our community is for people to be extra careful in these next several weeks. It also not only helps us care for patients that have covid, but it ensures that hospital capacity is available for people who have heart disease or other problems,” Luskin-Hawk says.

As of Sunday, the state reported 7,415 Coronavirus hospitalizations with more than 1,700 of those patients in intensive care units.