COVID-19: Siskiyou hospitals Mercy and Fairchild are 'prepared to meet the demand'

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka

Due to the explosion of COVID-19 cases in Siskiyou County and the widespread nature of the virus, Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta is once again restricting hospital visitors with exceptions for end-of-life care, laboring mothers, pediatric patients and patients with disabilities.

As of Tuesday evening, November 24, Siskiyou County Public Health reported 132 active cases and a total of 582 confirmed cases overall. 

Mercy is doing all it can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by ensuring COVID-19 patients are isolated from other patients, said hospital spokesperson Allison Hendrickson. 

Mercy Mt. Shasta is “prepared to meet the demand” as they’ve been “planning for this eventuality for some time,” Hendrickson said.

To those who worry that the county’s two hospitals – including Mercy and Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka – don’t have enough ICU beds, Hendrickson said Mercy has the ability to convert additional rooms into negative pressure rooms where COVID-19 patients can be treated.

The hospitals have said there are an adequate number of ventilators and Mercy has access to more if the need arises.

Staff members at Fairchild Medical Center are screened as a COVID-29 safety precaution.

Fairchild has 10 ventilators on hand, as well as four ICU beds and 17 regular beds, said assistant administrator Michael Madden.

Both hospitals also say they have adequate Personal Protective Equipment for their staffs, including masks, gloves and face shields.

“We continue to track our PPE inventory on a daily basis,” said Mercy’s Hendrickson. “In the event of a surge, we have the supplies, equipment and people needed to care for our patients.”

Madden said the many months of preparation with low incidence rate of COVID-19 has prepared Fairchild for a wave of patients if there is an influx. He added that Fairchild is a COVID testing site which services the community with walk-up testing.

Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta's new emergency department was officially opened on Friday, Sept. 18 with a blessing ceremony. The project, which has been in progress for two years, added 2,900 square feet of space to the old department, which was built in the late 1970s.

Mercy’s visitor policy

At Mercy, virtual visitation is encouraged when possible. 

“Patients can use the hospital’s free wi-fi and use personal devices to stay in touch with family and friends,” said Hendrickson. “Families may also contact patients through the hospital by calling (530) 926-6111.” 

The following exceptions are being made:

End-of-life care

• 2 visitors at a time

• Visitors must exhibit no symptoms

• Case-by-case basis

Laboring mothers

• One designated birth partner

• Visitor must exhibit no symptoms

Pediatric patients

• One designated support person

• For prolonged hospitalization, two support persons may be designated

• One visitor at a time

• Visitors must exhibit no symptoms

Patients with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities or cognitive impairments

• One designated support person

• For prolonged hospitalization, two support persons may be designated

• One visitor at a time

• Visitors must exhibit no symptoms

 All visitors will be screened for symptoms upon arrival, Hendrickson added.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.