Jake Foster, PA

At the risk of sounding like a real Darrel Downer (I think I made that one up), I am going to ask you to imagine finding yourself in a situation where you suddenly need emergency assistance. Maybe you are spending a day on the reservoir, and you suddenly have pain in your chest. Or perhaps your car goes off the road on Highway 12 on the way to Lewiston, and you find yourself with a scary injury. Or maybe you develop a concerning fever and cough that progresses to difficulty breathing. Whatever the circumstance you imagine, let’s say you decide to call 911 for help. The ambulance comes and picks you up, and takes you to the nearest hospital. You are transported to the Emergency Department, where you are evaluated and determined that you need to be admitted to the hospital to receive the care and support you need to recover. Now let’s say that your illness or injury is such that you will need a level of care that is higher than what is available at the hospital you were transported to. You need to be transferred to a higher level of care. The physician who is taking care of you makes a call to the nearest hospital that can offer the care you need. Let’s say that is a hospital in Coeur D’Alene. But that hospital has bad news. There is not a bed available. All the beds are currently occupied by other sick or injured people. Now your doctor calls the next hospital, maybe that is a hospital in the Tri-Cities, or Missoula. Those hospitals don’t have beds available either. So your doctor keeps trying, calling hospitals that are progressively farther away…with the same results. Finally, a bed is found for you in Seattle. Whew. You are packaged up and flown to Seattle where you make a full recovery and eventually return home.

This is a scenario that is certainly not fun to imagine (sorry about that). But it really is a situation that can happen. There are a limited number of hospital beds that are available at any given time at any given hospital. All it takes is an increase in demand for those beds, and they can fill up quickly. We saw an increase in demand for hospital beds last year during the height of the Covid pandemic. And recently, there has been another uptick in demand, driven in part by a surge of Covid infection. There are a lot of reasons why a person may need to be admitted to a hospital. Most people admitted aren’t due to an infection, by Covid or otherwise. But I’m sure you would agree, if you are in need of a hospital bed, it would sure be nice to have one available.

So take care of yourselves. Please be careful on those roads, waterways and trails as we wind summer down and start thinking about fall. Stay out of the heat and smoke if you can. Keep an eye on those Covid numbers. Do what you can to protect yourself and others against infection, including getting vaccinated. Let us know how we can help. It is a pleasure to serve you, and I think I can speak for us all at Clearwater Valley Health and St Mary’s Health when I say: We really do care about you all out there.