A lot of focus recently on the COVID-19 toll on hospitals has centered on how full the Lincoln and Omaha hospitals are, with Bryan Health, CHI Health, Methodist Health and Nebraska Medicine all saying last week that virus patients were occupying 25% or more of their available rooms.
One of the reasons for that is that not only do those hospitals take patients from their own metro areas, they also take a number of transfers from smaller hospitals.
For example, of the 113 COVID-19 patients Bryan had in its two Lincoln hospitals Monday morning, 72 were from outside Lancaster County. Overall, Lincoln had 136 patients, 84 of whom are out-of-county residents. Douglas County reported 428 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.
A look at some of the smaller hospitals in the state helps explain the surge in COVID-19 patients in the metro areas.
On Friday, the East Central District Health Department, which serves Platte, Colfax, Boone and Nance counties, said it had reached a record with 30 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and had only one available intensive-care bed.
The Two Rivers Public Health Department, which covers Buffalo and several surrounding counties, said in its most recent weekly report that it had less than 10% of its ICU beds available.
In the spring, when certain areas of the state were hit with large outbreaks linked to nursing homes or meatpacking plants, there were plenty of hospital beds in Lincoln, Omaha and some other larger cities where patients could be transferred.