Cottage CEO Confirms Three COVID-19 Patients Hospitalized

Another 23 Santa Barbara County Patients Have Been Tested, with Nine in Critical Condition

Ron Werft, President and CEO of Cottage Health | Credit: Paul Wellman

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Cottage Health System CEO Ron Werft confirmed that three COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized at Cottage Hospital. According to a letter sent by Werft to all medical staff, Cottage has three confirmed COVID-19 patients and another 23 who have been tested for COVID-19 and for whom the test results are still pending. Of those, he stated, nine are in critical condition. Four negative-pressure social isolation units have been established to handle potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

The tone of Werft’s note was nothing less than urgent. “We have now moved to high-level surge planning and made the decision today to use every opportunity inside the walls of our hospital to convert space for patient care,” Werft’s letter reads.

The Independent has been hearing reports from Cottage employees who’ve expressed a sense of urgency that all nonessential outpatient functions be shut down to the maximum extent possible in order to limit potential exposure. While Werft’s memo does not address that point directly, his comments are nonetheless clear. “We are already looking at the next units to convert and the staffing and supplies needed to support additional converted units.”

Marian Medical in Santa Maria has reportedly taken steps to curtail all nonessential functions. Hospital staff has also reportedly begun the difficult ethical discussions on what happens when the demand for services exceeds the supplies available. 

Cottage—like all medical institutions—faces a pressing demand for more masks, gowns, goggles, face shields, and of course, beds. In fact, relatives of hospital staff helped lead the recent donation drive by members of the community. 

Werft expressed gratitude for what’s been collected thus far at the Supply Donation Center located in the parking lot of Goleta Valley Hospital: 11,565 N95 masks, 12,800 procedure masks, 800 lab coats, 500 protective gowns, and 300 eye shields. Werft added that Cottage has received confirmation that it will be receiving additional supplies. 

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the County of Santa Barbara’s Public Health Department has requested additional supplies from the federal government, including 100,000 N95 masks. They have also reportedly requested 100 new ventilators and 200 disposable ventilators from the state. The state of California reports having just received one million new masks.

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