Hospital has six ventilators, hoping to get more

WhidbeyHealth has six or seven ventilators in the hospital — depending on what’s counted — and could receive as many as 13 more, according to hospital officials.

Ventilators are vital in the response to the COVID-19 epidemic. People with the most severe cases of the illness have difficulty breathing because their lungs are inflamed and filled with fluid. Those people may need a ventilator to help them breathe as they recover, which may last 14 days, according to the hospital.

Unfortunately, the country doesn’t have enough ventilators to handle to predicted need.

“As everybody knows there’s about 160,000 in the whole country and they expect a need of about 700,000 vents,” Tim Waldner, director of facilities and plant engineering, said during a Facebook Live talk Wednesday.

Waldner said the hospital made a request to get three additional ventilators from the Navy and possibility six to 10 more through Island County Emergency Management.

WhidbeyHealth has four ventilators, plus two units in the operating suites which double as ventilators. The hospital also has one specialized ventilator for transporting patients who are transferred to facilities off-island.

Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor doesn’t have any standard ICU ventilators, but it does have two anesthesia machines with built-in ventilators.

“With the advice and oversight of anesthesia personnel, these machines could be adjusted to support long-term ICU care,” Patricia Rose, chief experience officer/patient relations, said in an email.

The Naval Health Clinic also has a transport ventilators that could be used in a crisis for long-term ventilator support, Rose wrote.

WhidbeyHealth officials stressed that most people diagnosed with coronavirus will not need to be hospitalized. Even among those who are hospitalized, many will not need ventilators.

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