A Message from our President and CEO
As we face the realities of a second serious COVID-19 wave, I want you to know first-hand what your healthcare team at Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is doing to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff. We recognize that there is a lot of misinformation out there. Our intent is to be a source of timely, fact-based information – as we all work together to overcome the daily challenges of a world-wide pandemic.
In mid-November, we experienced a growing number of patients seeking care in our Emergency Department. Since then the number of patients requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 quickly increased and has continued to grow. I am beyond proud of our YRMC care team who continues to arrive each day ready to serve. We care deeply about this community and will be here ready to care.
Below is an honest look at our current situation:
Our Emergency Department (ED) is seeing a higher volume of patients, many with a greater severity of illness. As a result, our ED wait times are much longer than expected. Our team continues their dedicated efforts to provide care to a quickly rising number of patients. We continue to operate a tiered response plan, including active steps in place to open another COVID-19 unit to treat high acuity patients being admitted for further care. Currently, we have ample beds and supplies. However, the availability of staff remains a critical need. Our ability to open additional COVID units depends on the availability of staff. Recruitment of additional clinical staff, especially those trained to care for our most critically ill patients, continues to be our top priority. Our only obstacle with staffing at this point is availability, as our nation faces staffing shortages. We are exploring every opportunity, including a community-wide request for trained medical personnel as we look to supplement our current staff.
As many of you know, we bring in seasonal winter staff each year. This year, seasonal staff have become more difficult to recruit as our nation’s healthcare system faces the COVID-19 crisis. Over the past two weeks we have welcomed over 30 new seasonal and agency staff, with others arriving weekly. Regardless, staffing remains an extraordinary challenge. Like all hospital systems in the U.S., we are competing for nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialized nursing staff.
Our core staff are the heart of our hospital. And, while they also have faced personal and family illness, they continue to support one another and our community each and every day. When a front-line hero is hurting, I am touched by the compassion of their co-workers who cover their shift, add an extra hand or offer words of support to get through a shift. As I look around our hospital each day I see such dedication, from our chaplains who provide needed spiritual support to staff, patients and families, to our dedicated support teams who ensure our facilities are clean and safe. Others prepare and deliver meals, supplies and medications around the clock. Our bedside caregivers have demonstrated true heroism as they push forward. It is commendable and honorable work, but also very hard work. They hurt with each loss. They celebrate with each recovery.
We are facing a difficult situation as COVID-19 cases in Yuma County rise significantly above both state and national averages. To put that into perspective, Yuma County is experiencing a daily rate of 118 positive cases per 100,000 population. Compared to the state rate of 75 and the United States rate of 59, Yuma is over two times higher than the national average of cases per 100,000 population. In total, YRMC has cared for more than 1,900 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but we could see more than 1,000 additional COVID patients hospitalized in the next month. As you can see, our entire county is experiencing significant impact. Conservative models are predicting a peak of 256 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in early January. Compare this to our summer peak of 178 patients. To date our modeling has shown to be an accurate assessment of what’s coming. We must prepare now for the likely impact on our community.
As we face each challenging day, we express our deepest gratitude to all of you who continue to support your local hospital’s frontline heroes and the entire dedicated team of YRMC caregivers. To all who have continued to support us with donations, kind words of encouragement, meals, handmade masks and care packages for employees, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The emotional support that comes from our community is needed now more than ever.
As we navigate this difficult time in our community, please continue to stay home as much as possible, wear a face covering and practice social distancing. It is challenging, but our collective diligence is needed to protect each other. We are in this together!
With sincere gratitude,
Dr. Robert J. Trenschel, President and CEO
Yuma Regional Medical Center