Cottage Hospital Activates COVID Unit

Winter Season Brings Flu, RSV, and COVID

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital | Credit: Courtesy Cottage Health

In Santa Barbara, COVID is on the increase, with Cottage Hospital converting one area into a COVID unit to handle the 33 patients who are currently positive, seven of them in critical care. As well, the triple whammy of influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 has sent the bed count in the intensive care units of Santa Barbara County hospitals on a roller-coaster ride during the past couple of weeks.  However, the low of nine available ICU beds on December 1 could just be a reflection of the number of nurses available, said Jackie Ruiz of the Public Health Department, explaining that staffing is one criteria for the available bed count. Today, the ICU availability figure countywide is 14.

The new COVID ward at Cottage is a return to the pandemic years of personal protection equipment, specialized air flow, and up-to-date training. “Our staff are very familiar with these safety precautions that have been successful in helping to keep our hospitals safe for care throughout previous COVID surges,” said Cottage spokesperson Maria Zate.

Statewide, the California Department of Health reports a steadily increasing number of positive COVID tests over the past month, rising from about 2,400 average daily cases to more than 5,400 statewide. The number is a fraction of actual positive tests, as so many are done at home and go unreported, but the trend indicates increasing cases overall.

At Cottage, influenza and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, are also making themselves felt. Six patients have flu, and RSV afflicts one pediatric and two adult patients. “Most people recover from COVID, flu, and RSV without hospitalization,” Zate said, “but it’s important to know the symptoms, when to seek care, and how to protect those at high risk.” The hallmark symptom for parents is a child struggling to breathe, the hospital had previously stated.

Among the steps to take to avoid falling ill this winter, the hospital advised, was to stay up to date on vaccinations, including the COVID booster. As well, washing hands, staying home when sick, and wearing a protective mask when indoors among a crowd were recommended.

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