Wyoming Medical Center declares 'Code Orange' status
A record number of COVID-19 patients have been admitted to Wyoming Medical Center, with 21 of the facility’s 149 total patients receiving treatment.
October 15, 2020
A record number of COVID-19 patients have been admitted to Wyoming Medical Center, with 21 of the facility’s 149 total patients receiving treatment for the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon.
The spike in patients has already prompted the Casper hospital to divert patients from outside Natrona County unless they are suffering heart attacks, strokes or traumatic injuries. Seventeen patients Wednesday were being held in the emergency room because of a lack of space elsewhere in the hospital.
“This is not going to go away for the next several months. I think it’s going to get a lot worse,” Dr. Mark Dowell, the Natrona County health officer, said in a press briefing Wednesday at the hospital. “I think our hospital is already stretched, and we are not even seeing the amount of COVID we are going to see.”
Also on Wednesday, the hospital opened its COVID-19 surge unit for the first time since the pandemic began. The hospital, Wyoming’s largest, has now implemented its “Code Orange Incident Command,” which establishes a number of protocols addressing a capacity concern. That designation, interim CEO Jim Bleicher said, is “one step below disaster.”
It was the first time any official present at the press briefing could remember Casper’s hospital declaring such a concern.
Early in the pandemic, the hospital treated three to four COVID patients a day, Bleicher told reporters. By the summer, that range had inched up to six to eight patients. In the past few weeks, however, the number of COVID-19 patients has surged upward.
“We’re not expecting this to be a one- to two-day spike,” Bleicher said, but rather one that continues over the next month or more.
The hospital had been in a “Code Red” situation for transfers for 72 hours as of Wednesday, meaning only traumatic injuries, heart attack and stroke patients were being accepted from outside of the community. WMC routinely accepts transfers from other communities because of its central location in the state and its ability to offer more services than smaller facilities. Bleicher said the patients that cannot be transferred to the Casper hospital are being sent to other Banner Health facilities out of the state.