Just over half of the patients at St. Joseph Medical Center have COVID-19, the hospital’s chief officer told City Council members this week, though many workers are being vaccinated.
Kelly Linden, chief executive of the Burbank hospital, said on Tuesday that there were 135 coronavirus patients at St. Joseph Medical Center — a number that frequently changes as patients are admitted and discharged. She added that since March 6, when the first COVID-19 patient was admitted to the hospital, thousands have been treated in its emergency room. About 1,500 of those have been admitted, and about a quarter of those have been placed in the intensive care unit.
The hospital has vaccinated about 2,500 physicians and staff, Linden added, and second doses have started being administered.
“The best thing that anybody can do to tell our health-care workers how much you care for them [is to] stay at home, mask up, socially distance,” Linden said. “Do those things that are so important to take care of themselves so that we can be here to take care of all who need it.”
She explained that the hospital is preparing additional beds, converting existing beds to ICU spaces and screening incoming patients for COVID-19 to meet the current surge in cases. More than 200 people are dying in Los Angeles County from the coronavirus every day, and nearly 8,000 remained hospitalized countywide. About one in three people in the county has been infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, officials estimate.
In Burbank, 6,552 people had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday evening, an increase of nearly 700 from the week prior. Additionally, 149 people have died from the virus, a jump from 200 the previous week. The seven-day average of new cases was nearly 100 a day.
Linden also urged people who need to go to the hospital not to avoid going out of fear of the coronavirus, explaining that screening protocols are in place to make sure families are safe.
Linden also noted that, like many other hospital systems, St. Joseph Medical Center has had difficulties ensuring that it has enough workers to handle the influx of patients. But she added that the state and the larger Providence organization have sent additional staff to help.
“I think that we all hear in the media the concerns of our staff, our nurses, our respiratory therapists, our physicians,” Linden said. “It is an extraordinarily challenging time — there’s just no way to say anything differently. They are working so incredibly hard, and I am really proud of the effort and the work that they do every day.”
AIRPORT APPROVED NOISE COMMITTEE
Frank Miller, the executive director of the Hollywood Burbank Airport, also told council members on Tuesday that a citizens group had been established to tackle noise issues, though the committee is not expected to start work for some time.
The formation of a citizen’s advisory committee was one of 17 recommendations given by the Noise Task Force, which included Springer and then-Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, which was created to address noise complaints regarding the Hollywood Burbank Airport and Van Nuys Airport.
“The one thing that we are doing with the citizens’ advisory group is to make sure that the focus really is noise,” Miller told council members, explaining that it would be charged with updating the airport’s noise program and updating a map showing how neighboring areas are affected by noise.
But because air traffic is still greatly reduced because of the pandemic — from 95 flights to 25 flights a day — Miller said that the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport authority is waiting until more planes are traveling before the noise program is updated.
Until then, 12 members will be appointed to the committee, with three members each appointed by the Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena city councils and the three remaining members being from nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods. Elected officials and their staff will not be eligible to hold seats on the group.
Miller also explained that the airport is continuing its deep cleaning practice nightly and that passengers can go to the Marriott hotel across the street to be tested for COVID-19. The fee for that test ranges from $145 to $470 depending on the type of test and the immediacy of results.
He also said that, thanks in part to the $21 million it received from a federal stimulus package last year, the airport hasn’t had to lay off any staff, though it has left some positions vacant to save funds.
“The airport is doing OK, and we’ll continue to do OK,” he said. “We’ll continue to monitor everything that is coming at us and we’ll be able to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.”