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Medical director asks for public’s help as Dixie Regional Medical Center ICU nears capacity

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jun 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-28 00:04:22-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Intermountain Health Care’s intensive care unit (ICU) at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George nearly reached capacity this week, medical director Dr. Patrick Carroll said.

“This week, we have seen more COVID ICU patients than we have ever had,” he said.

About 1/3 of the patients in the ICU were there because of COVID-19, Carroll said.

“We got very close this week to needing to open up a surge ICU,” he said.

While this is something they are prepared for, it’s not something they would like to do, Carroll said.

“The best ICU care we can provide is in our normal location with our normal team,” Carroll said.

When looking at opening a surge ICU, they must look at three things: Space, supplies and staff.

“We have plenty more ventilators, but if we would have gone up by just a few more ventilated patients, we would have needed to look at contingency staffing,” he said.

The number of hospitalizations is concerning, Carroll said. People need to take precautions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Even if we aren’t feeling sick, we may be positive and not know it. We may spread that to more people and not know it,” he said.

Over at Zion National Park, one of the most popular attractions in southern Utah, park staff is encouraging people to also take the virus seriously.

“You’re going to see park staff wearing masks, but for the visitors, it’s their responsibility to wear a mask,” park spokesman Jeff Axel said.

Zion is running at about 50 percent capacity right now, Axel said. The wait to get into Zion Canyon’s Scenic Drive isn’t a quick one, Axel warns.

“We get maybe 300-400 folks lining up in the morning as early as 2 in the morning, sometimes earlier, to hope to get up there,” he said.

The odds of getting up there are not great, Axel said. He urges people to have a backup plan when heading to the park just in case to enjoy other areas of the park or other attractions nearby.

Whether people are heading to Zion or they live in Washington County, Dr. Carroll is asking everyone to help out and do their part so the ICU beds can stay open for the other emergencies life throws at us.

“Having the ICU available for normal things that happen in life, [such as] when our loved ones has a stroke,” he said.

For more information on COVID-19 in Utah, click here.