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Jamestown Regional Medical Center sees patient load increases

JRMC continues to see more and sicker patients although not all are from COVID.

JSSP Generic Sun

Jamestown Regional Medical Center is busier than normal and even has more patients than during some of the peaks of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mike Delfs, president of the hospital. This has prompted the hospital to continue operating a surge plan to prepare for high utilization.

"We have 18 of our 25 available beds occupied," he said on the morning of Nov. 10. "The average daily census a year ago was 16 and the average when we are not in a surge is nine."

Delfs said 18 patients are closer to the 25-bed normal capacity of the hospital than he would like to see.

The patients at JRMC on Wednesday morning included 12 on the patient floor, three in the intensive care unit which filled that unit to capacity, and three moms in the maternity unit.

Of those 18, three were COVID related, Delfs said.


"One of the interesting things about this is the increase in patients is not entirely COVID related," he said. "We have a lot of people in that are really sick patients."

The non-COVID patients have a variety of health problems such as respiratory illnesses not related to COVID, post-surgery recovery and maternity.

"The increase is across the board," Delfs said. "The general acuity is worse than it was last year."

The health problems have also extended to the Emergency Department.

"We saw 500 to 600 more patients in the emergency room in the months of July, August and September than we did during the same period last year," Delfs said.

Delfs said the hospital is remaining anticipatory rather than reactive to the increase in the number of patients.

"The biggest proactive thing we can do is actively utilize our bed surge team," he said. "They monitor the situation moment by moment to keep on top of the situation."

JRMC formulated a bed surge plan early in the coronavirus pandemic. The plan detailed the steps necessary to operate the hospital with a patient count above the stated capacity of 25 beds. The plan included staffing, supplies and other logistical steps that would be necessary in the event of a patient surge.


The problem with hospital capacity extends across North Dakota, according to a social media post by the North Dakota Department of Health.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, 3.4% of ICU beds in North Dakota were available across North Dakota. This amounts to seven beds with three in Cass County.

The social media post showed only 8.8% of all inpatient hospital beds were available.

Delfs said the hospital has been able to get necessary supplies despite disruptions to the supply chain.

"From an availability issue, so far, so good," he said. "We are having prices going up because of the supply chain issues."

Staffing is another issue as patient numbers increase.

"The team has been through a lot in the last year," said Katie Ryan-Anderson, marketing coordinator for JRMC. "... the main message is this is still a safe place to come."

Delfs said "COVID fatigue" is a real thing within the health care community.


"Some of the things the staff is doing is still different than what they've done in the past," he said. "The staff is in a good place but have been really stressed for a long time."

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