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Las Vegas hospitals react to Omicron surge in the Silver State

Omicron variant
Posted at 6:29 AM, Dec 23, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Hospitals in the Las Vegas valley are preparing for another wave of COVID-19. They have seen an increase in the number of patients and are close to hitting maximum capacity.

Dr. Domenic Martinello is the chief medical officer at MountainView Hospital, and he says we are seeing very similar patterns to the big wave we hit around this time last year, but he says this time the virus is spreading at an unpredictable rate.

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“Even compared to delta which is already more infectious than the native strain. Omicron is unfortunately even more infectious,” Dr. Martinello said.

Dr. Martinello says their hospital is close to reaching maximum capacity, but if it’s necessary they will make room for more patients.

“Everybody is at capacity or over capacity and they have been for some time," he said. "We in the healthcare industry find spaces to put those patients that are ill because we still have to care for them. We are not at the point of rationing care or turning them away."

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During this surge, Dr. Martinello says the biggest challenge is finding staff. He says his hospital has been preparing for another surge for a while now. They’ve stocked up on personal protective equipment (PPE) and received more ventilators and supplies for patients. They just don’t know how hard and how soon we will be hit.

“If we wanted one single most effective intervention that would save the most lives and give us the most capacity in hospitals is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Martinello.

He says patients should not turn away from going to the hospital. If you need care or a particular surgical procedure, he says they still have room. They start to see issues when there is a heavy volume of both COVID patients and other patients.

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“It’s when the combination of those two come together and we are already strained for resources, and we have to find ways to care for patients in alternative spaces so that may be a hallway bed or prolonged care in the emergency room,” Dr. Martinello said.

He recommends the booster shot as studies have shown it does strengthen the protection against the omicron variant.

A lot of people are asking if they test positive how will they know if it is Omicron. Dr. Martinello says it is difficult to distinguish the variants but because omicron is currently the predominant variant we can assume if you test positive then you have it.

The nine that have been reported here in Nevada by the state lab were positive tests that were selected for further study, but Dr. Martinello says there could be many more cases out there and we just don’t know it yet.