Las Vegas hospital in capacity crisis as COVID-19 cases soar

Doctors in hospital discussing coronavirus
Photo credit Halfpoint/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS (AP) — One Las Vegas hospital said Wednesday that it declared a capacity crisis over the weekend, citing a surge of COVID-19 patients that overfilled its intensive care unit.

With nearly half its 147 beds occupied by coronavirus patients, St. Rose Dominican Hospital’s San Martin campus in southwest Las Vegas canceled elective surgeries beginning Saturday and pressed units like post-anesthesia recovery, maternal-child and same-day surgery into service for non-COVID-19 patients, according to a hospital memo to medical staff.

“San Martin has moved into a Level 2 disaster declaration due to COVID-19,” the memo said, which means the number of patients had surpassed resources. At the time, the hospital had exceeded its overall capacity.

Patients were not turned away, hospital spokesman Gordon Absher said Wednesday, and the surge capacity plan was slated to stay in effect until Jan. 22.

“The actions we’ve taken have made things more manageable,” Absher said.

The disaster declaration was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Two other St. Rose hospitals in the area have not issued disaster declarations but also are strained, Absher told the newspaper.

“Under normal circumstances, patients might be transferred to other facilities, but in this unprecedented surge of COVID-19 patients, most other hospitals are experiencing very similar circumstances,” Absher said.

Nevada hospitals and health officials are anticipating a surge of coronavirus patients following a tourist influx and Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve gatherings.

“We’re likely seeing an increase in hospitalizations ... after the holidays in December and other activities when people get together,” state COVID-19 response chief Caleb Cage told reporters Wednesday.

Nevada Hospital Association data that the Review-Journal obtained from the governor’s office through a public records request showed that 13 of the 17 acute-care hospitals in and around Las Vegas reported reaching or exceeding capacity in adult ICUs for at least one day during the first half of December