The number of admitted patients at Dignity Health Mark Twain Medical Center (MTMC) in San Andreas is currently double its average, but only two of those patients are being treated for COVID-19.
“It’s interesting because we’re seeing a general uptick in census, but not all COVID-related,” Doug Archer, CEO of MTMC, stated during a board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
Of the 17 total patients currently being treated at the hospital, six are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and none are on a ventilator.
With an ICU capacity of eight beds at MTMC, local health officials prepared for the worst back in April when it was anticipated that as many as 80 COVID-19 patients would require intensive care within a span of six to eight weeks.
Yet emergency room visits to the sole hospital in Calaveras County flattened out to a typical 25 visits on Monday, with nine of those visits involving confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, Archer said. Over the last month-and-a-half, the emergency room saw a high of 42 patients in a single day.
In total, about 30 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from MTMC since the onset of the pandemic, and one has died. However, the death was not included in Calaveras County numbers due to the patient’s residence in San Joaquin County.
Archer said the hospital has stocked approximately 100 vials of Remdesivir, an antiviral medication developed by biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences that was authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early May for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
So far, MTMC has treated roughly 10 COVID-19 patients with Remdesivir, Archer said. Patients have also done “really well” with convalescent plasma therapy, a treatment that utilizes blood drawn from recovered COVID-19 cases.
“Convalescent plasma has been a really beneficial treatment,” Archer said.
Following a statewide trend of improvement in COVID-19 cases and deaths, Archer said COVID-19 volumes at MTMC’s sister hospitals in the Dignity Health system have “declined quite a bit since about a month ago,” allowing for supplemental staffing and patient transfers, if needed.
"We're doing very well on supplies," he said.
A two-step surge plan remains in place which can increase the hospital’s capacity to as many as 42 beds. According to county Health Officer Dean Kelaita, MD, supplies including 25 beds remain “deployed and staged” at Calaveras High School in San Andreas to be activated in the event of a surge.
Regarding the more than 50 residents infected with COVID-19 at Avalon Health Care in San Andreas, the nursing home has established an on-site COVID-19 unit where it is now treating many of the patients who were initially outsourced to other facilities.
Kelaita stated during Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting that the county health department is still in the process of confirming the five COVID-19-related deaths reported by Avalon on Sept. 2.
Also on Tuesday, the health department announced 13 additional cases of COVID-19 in Calaveras County, with 11 of those cases linked to the outbreak at Avalon. To date, 253 confirmed cases have since recovered in the county and two deaths have occurred outside of Avalon.