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By Nick Ehli
KHN 

Postcard From an Overrun ICU: 'The Problem Is We Are Running Out of Hallways'

 

September 29, 2021

Billings Clinic emergency department manager Brad Von Bergen and Dr. Jaimee Belsky discuss options for additional space in a hallway there on Sept. 17. The hospital's intensive care unit was operating at 160% capacity that day. (Billings Clinic)

Nurses fill the hospital room to turn a patient from his stomach to his back. The ventilator forcing air into him is most effective when he's on his stomach, so he is in that position most hours of the day, sedated and paralyzed by drugs.

Lying on his stomach all those hours has produced sores on his face, and one nurse dabs at the wounds. The dark lesions are insignificant given his current state, but she continues just the same, gently, soothingly, appearing to whisper to him as she works.

The man has been a patient at Billings Clinic for nearly a month, most of that time in the hospital'...



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