Rise in COVID cases forces DHMC to expand critical-care capacity

Published: 11/25/2021 9:27:41 PM
Modified: 11/25/2021 9:27:37 PM

LEBANON — Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center this week said it was caring for more than 30 patients with active COVID-19 infections and has expanded into an additional critical-care unit to help deal with the caseload.

“This is the highest number of hospitalizations for COVID-19-related illness that we have seen since the onset of the pandemic, and other members of our health system are experiencing a similar surge in pandemic-related activity. The majority of these hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and many are critically ill,” DHMC spokeswoman Cassidy Smith said via email on Wednesday.

She said the Lebanon-based medical center is grouping COVID-19 patients together in the ICU “while at the same time maintaining our ability to treat all other patients seeking our care.

“We are currently exploring the feasibility of expanding our in-facility resources to be able to care for additional patients requiring admission to the hospital. Given the increase in numbers of patients with COVID-19 illness, we have expanded into an additional critical care unit,” she added.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday issued an executive order designed to help boost capacity at hospitals across the state that are struggling with a record number of COVID-19 patients, and state officials are even trying to identify some jobs that members of the National Guard could help fill.

Smith says D-H has “well-established surge plans” to manage an increase in patients and that there is currently “no plan to bring in outside resources such as the National Guard.”

But she also said DHMC expects to see an increase in COVID-19 cases because of Thanksgiving-related travel and gatherings and added, “We continue to strongly urge everyone to get vaccinated, get boosted if you’re eligible, and continue the basic steps that we’ve advocated for since the start of the pandemic: wear masks in public, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands frequently.”

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