A surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant is resulting is full emergency rooms at Skagit County hospitals.
Skagit Valley Hospital's emergency room is as crowded as at any point in the pandemic, said Dr. Connie Davis, chief medical officer with Skagit Regional Health.
“We have a lot of patients coming in," she said. "We’re crushed.”
Davis said her emergency room is consistently full, with about 30% of patients showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Any non-urgent medical procedures have been delayed, and staff are urging those not seriously ill to avoid the hospital, she said. She asks that those who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms stay home or, if necessary, seek testing elsewhere.
While the volume of patients has been great, the omicron variant is appearing to be more mild. A smaller proportion of COVID-19 patients are requiring ventilators than during prior surges, Davis said.
Still, she said the hospital's intensive care unit is at risk of being overwhelmed.
About 95% of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, Davis said.
“The public can help by being careful," she said. "Those people who haven't been vaccinated need to get vaccinated. Please.”
Anacortes' Island Hospital is under similar strain.
The hospital's emergency room, the walk-in clinic and the testing tent are being inundated with patients, spokesperson Laura Moroney told the Anacortes American.
On Monday, 60 people came into the emergency room for treatment. A high-volume day typically would mean about 45 patients, Moroney said.
In Sedro-Woolley, PeaceHealth United General has canceled non-emergency procedures while staff take care of those sick with COVID-19.
Those who do not have serious, life-threatening injuries or illnesses are asked to seek treatment elsewhere, according to a news release from the health care provider.
Davis said staffing issues are another challenge facing Skagit Valley Hospital, forcing employees to do more with fewer people. The work is incredibly hard, and staff are exhausted, she said.
“Really it is a labor of love that they are doing,” she said. "But I can't use any other word than hard.”
A shortage of anti-viral and COVID-19 antibody treatments are another challenge, she said.
There are patients Davis knows would benefit from these treatments, but because of limited supply the treatments are being reserved for the most sick, she said.