WCHS requests more staff

By: 
Alexis Barker

The Wyoming Department of Health has created a graph showing the number of cases in the community with community spread as the cause. In the top graph, the top line represents the total number of cases in Weston County (per capita) and the bottom line shows the number of cases contributed to community spread. The bottom graph shows the percentage of cases contributed to community spread. 

 

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

Weston County Health Services has asked the state for help with staffing as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to climb, according to CEO Maureen Cadwell. The staffing request came after Gov. Mark Gordon approved $10 million to bring in health care providers and staff from other states to aid facilities across Wyoming that are facing staffing issues and increases in patients. 

According to the Wyoming Department of Health, Weston County has recorded 326 positive COVID-19 cases and another 71 probable cases. To date, the department has reported one death related to the illness. 

Statewide, 29,053 cases have been confirmed, with another 4,252 cases listed as probable. Reported to date, although the Wyoming Department of Health stated that there are delays in COVID-19 death reporting, are 215 deaths in the state. 

The department shows that cases of the disease began to climb in late October, with nearly 400 cases a day reported between Oct. 26 and Nov. 19. During the same period, the department reported a steady increase in hospitalized cases, with the number peaking at 171 COVID-19 patients being hospitalized across the state. 

Because of the increase in cases statewide, Cadwell reported that WCHS was yet to receive any of the requested staff but that the hospital had submitted the proper paperwork. 

In total, both the hospital and Weston County Manor have requested one radiology technician, one laboratory technician, four nurses and seven certified nursing assistants. Cadwell said that WCHS currently employs two and half radiology technicians, six lab technicians, 16 nurses and 40 certified nursing assistants. 

“As we continue to see positive cases in Weston County grow, we continue to see staff out at various times with COVID-19 and/or related to a COVID-19 situation,” Cadwell said. “Because of this, the Wyoming Hospital Association worked with Gov. Mark Gordon’s office and the Wyoming Department of Health to use CARES Act funding to help bring in contract staff.” 

According to Cadwell, it is hard to quantify the impact on the local facilities because the number of staff out at any given time is constantly changing. Staff have either been quarantined because they have tested positive themselves or are closely related to a positive case. 

“It has been a challenge. The remaining staff then have to work extra and pick up additional shifts,” Cadwell said. “We really don’t want them to get burned out; they are taking on quite a lot.” 

Another staffing issue facing the facility is the continued changes in directives from governing agencies. These have included changes in staffing requirements and changes to quarantine protocols for health care workers.

“These directives are changing constantly. We are constantly trying to stay on top of them,” Cadwell said. “With those changes, there are additional questions for a variety of situations.” 

Although extra staff has yet to be seen locally, Cadwell said, she knows other facilities in the state have benefited from contract staffing. These health care providers will be paid directly out of the CARES funding from the Wyoming Hospital Association, she said.

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