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Wasatch Back hospitals urge residents to stay local for care during COVID surge

Park City Hospital

Doctors at Park City Hospital and Heber Valley Hospital said this week that Wasatch Back residents are better off sticking close to home than going down to Salt Lake City for care during the omicron surge, because they’ve got plenty of room and healthy staff.

Dr. Wing Province, medical director at Park City Hospital, says his facility has plenty of room – and staff – to handle the COVID-19 surge, for now. So if Park City area patients go to Salt Lake City hospitals for treatment, it will be a wasted trip.

“If you go down to Salt Lake, you're gonna end up waiting in a waiting room for hours," he said. "And if you end up having to be admitted to the hospital, you're gonna get shipped back up here to us because that's what is happening right now is we're offloading some of the big city hospitals and taking patients here at Park City Hospital.”

Province echoed county health experts’ predictions that COVID cases will peak statewide around the third week of January. And he believes Summit County’s peak could come sooner since it tends to be ahead of the state due to tourists who bring in germs.

He said the hospital looks at three areas as it manages its response to the surge.

The first is ensuring tests and staff are sufficient to meet increased demand. The second is maintaining hospital capacity to meet patient needs, and the third is preparing for more people to need emergency room services.

He said emergency room visitations are roughly double what they were this time last year, but that doesn’t present a problem due to having enough physical space and staff. That includes a small and fluctuating number of ICU beds.

At Heber Valley Hospital, Medical Director David Sutherland said his facility also is adequately staffed and while patient levels are fluctuating, they’re not over capacity and wait times are shorter than at Wasatch Front hospitals.

Even though the surge is here and not going away anytime soon, Province said that getting vaccinated and boosted immediately, for those who haven’t already, can still make a difference.

“That would be the most selfless thing they could do and selfish thing they could do, selfish in the sense that they're protecting themselves and their family members and selfless in that that's the way that we're going to keep our economy strong where organizations like Sundance don't have to cancel because if everyone were vaccinated and boosted then everyone could interact.”

And Province said he may sound like a broken record, but masking is for other people, not for oneself.