Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

COVID surge forces conversion of regular beds to ICU at Monument Health

monument health.png
Monument Health

West River's biggest hospital has zero adult Intensive Care Unit beds available.

All of the adult ICU beds at Monument Health in Rapid City are occupied. Over 70 percent of those beds are occupied by patients infected with COVID-19.

Now, West River’s only major health system says they’re converting regular hospital beds into ICU beds.

ICU care requires a lot of a hospital's resources—it's 24/7 care that includes critical care doctors and one-on-one specialized nursing. It also requires mechanical resources like ventilators and other equipment.

Monument Health has 39 ICU beds and isrepurposing nine more rooms to accommodate the increase in COVID patients.

Vaccinated_Unvaccinated (2).png

Dr. Shankar Kurra is the vice president of medical affairs with Monument Health in Rapid City. He says the health system is stressed.

"We are in a situation where we are doing, I would say, an excellent job,” Kurra says. “But, it’s not sustainable in the long run. We can do it for a while, but that’s kind of the situation we’re in.”

Monument Health anticipates peak COVID cases toward the end of September and into early October. That's still a few weeks away.

Vaccination rates remain low in the region. Kurra says getting the COVID vaccine will help the hospital system respond to the pandemic and serve the region.

The lion share of COVID patients are unvaccinated against the virus.

Western South Dakota has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases following the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

However, the Department of Health traces just 66 cases to the rally.

091321 BH COVID stats.png

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.