Carson Tahoe wants to double available beds for possible virus influx |

Carson Tahoe wants to double available beds for possible virus influx

Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center is working to double its number of beds for a possible influx of patients due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have 188 acute beds and we found way to get 100 new beds and tomorrow we’ll look for another 80. In essence, we’ll double our capacity,” said Alan Garrett, CEO, Carson Tahoe Health during a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday.

Those additional 80 beds would be in temporary facilities on the health center’s main campus.

The hospital is also adding ventilators, going from 25 machines to 65 by modifying other equipment in order to use it as a ventilator.

Garrett said the facility is preserving personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks and gowns, which is in short supply.

“We are keeping our staff safe, but we are not adequately supplied,” said Garrett.

He said some PPE is being re-sterilized after use in order to use it again. And that while masks sewn by volunteers cannot be used alone, they can be used over the N95 masks to prolong their life.

“We encourage people to keep donating them and to use for themselves,” said Garrett.

The hospital is no longer performing elective surgeries both to preserve PPE and to keep beds available if the outbreak here worsens.

“We’re doing some surgeries. If you have a cancer diagnosis or appendicitis,” said Garrett. “But if you have a bum knee you’re going to need to wait to get it replaced.”

So, far the hospital has tested about 227 people for coronavirus with three positive results. The hospital treated one person on an out-patient basis and has not had to hospitalize anyone, said Garrett.

“I don’t think we’re going to escape this but hopefully we’re better off because we sheltered in place so quickly,” he said.

The Community Conversation COVID-19 was organized by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce in partnership with National Grassroots Broadcasting Network, which broadcast it, and the Nevada Appeal.

Ronni Hannaman, the Chamber’s executive director, hosted the event and the guests included city, state, and federal officials.

Tiffany Tyler-Garner, director, Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, encouraged people filing for unemployment to file online rather than use the phone.

With the statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses, unemployment claims have jumped from 5,000 a week to 93,000 the first week after the closures, inundating the DETR phone line and web site. A total of almost 245,000 claims have been filed since mid-March.

Tyler-Garner said people should read the online handbook before filling out a claim online to avoid problems.

“The system is not crashing,” she said referring to complaints about the web site. “The fraud protection features are being triggered by multiple attempts or disparate answers.”

Two representatives from the Small Business Administration talked about two new programs for businesses.

The payroll protection program lends a business 2.5 times its monthly payroll. The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities and due to likely high subscription, at least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll, according to the SBA web site. Businesses apply for it through their lender.

The economic injury disaster program is applied for through the SBA. It loans up to $2 million at 3.75 percent interest for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits for working capital. Businesses that derive 33 percent or more of their revenue from gaming are not eligible.

“I do know a lot of our businesses run on thin margins,” said Mayor Bob Crowell at the start of the event. “One week (closed) hurts, two weeks really hurt and three weeks might be devastating.”

He said a lot depends on how long the pandemic persists, but he hopes there may be a phased in approach that will allow some businesses to reopen.

“If we are not going to get over this in a short period of time I hope we could gradually open up businesses,” Crowell said.

The mayor said the city has $10 million in reserves to help mitigate the drop in sales tax and revenue and next week at the Board of Supervisors meeting will start to look at ways to cut the next fiscal year’s budget.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Crowell said. “The U.S. and certainly Carson City is not going to go down over this.”