Dixie Regional ICU passes capacity, immediately activates additional beds

Composite image | July 2018 background file photo of Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George by Mikayla Shoup. Inset photo of recently installed BLU-MED tent courtesy of Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — St. George News has learned that Dixie Regional Medical Center has activated its contingency surge intensive care unit after it went over the 32-bed capacity of its ICU. The move comes as Southern Utah deals with the continued rise in coronavirus hospitalizations and new infections in the area.

A view above Dixie Regional Medical Center on Feb. 13, 2020 in St. George, Utah. | Photo by Chris Reed

The surge ICU plan converts additional rooms into negative pressure ICU rooms that gives the hospital 89 ICU beds available.

Hospital officials have said previously that they have been solidifying contingency plans for months and there still remains a plan C and D as far as capacity is concerned. There are 284 total beds, with the ability to add 80-100 beds, if necessary.

There is also the BLU-MED tent erected outside the emergency room in March that Dr. Patrick Carroll, medical director of Dixie Regional Medical Center, has said is an absolute last resort if the hospital runs out of beds. Carroll has also said capacity issues are also exacerbated by the majority of those who are in the hospital for non-coronavirus ailments and the concern is as the number of COVID-19 patients grow, the fewer beds will be available for non-COVID-19 patients. 

On top of that, Carroll has previously mentioned it isn’t just capacity that is an issue, but the number of staff available to man the beds. 

Total local hospitalization numbers are not released on Sundays by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, though in the last four days the number of locals hospitalized for COVID-19 has been between 24 and 33 people. There are at least 15 additional coronavirus patients from outside the area from such places as Mesquite, Nevada, and Page, Arizona, Intermountain Healthcare officials have said.

Medical professionals work on a patient on an undisclosed date at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah. | Photo courtesy Intermountain Medical, St. George News

The continuing rise in new infections may not bode well for the coming week, as Carroll and other health officials have said that a rise in new cases results in a rise in hospitalizations seven to 14 days later.

And the news on new infections hasn’t been positive on that front, as the Utah Department of Health said on Sunday there were 73 new coronavirus infections in Southern Utah – the eighth-most in one day. In a four-day span, there have been 302 people locally who have been newly infected with the virus, with new one-day highs set on Thursday and Saturday.

According to the Utah Department of Health, there are right now 1,078  people in Southern Utah presently infected with the virus, or one out of every 234 people.

Editor’s note: The story as originally published referred to the ICU rooms as zero pressure. The correct term is negative pressure. Also, Carroll said the hospital has not received COVID-19 patients from Northern Utah and the number of extra ICU beds are being added in increments.

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

We invite you to check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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