Hazel Hawkins increases bed capacity, staffing

Hospital responds in anticipation of additional patient surge


Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital will have some much needed extra space and help as the final phases of the COVID Emergency Response plan are going through the completion stage.  

Frankie Gallagher, the hospital’s director of marketing and community relations, issued a press release on Jan. 11 to announce that bed capacity has increased dramatically by 96 percent with the addition of three more beds in the intensive care unit and 21 beds on the medical/surgical unit.

The plan, which has been developed in conjunction with the San Benito County Public Health Department, is to specifically address the recent surge of Covid-19 patients in the county.

Starting Jan. 14., Hazel Hawkins will also have 10 additional emergency room nurses, 11 intensive care unit nurses, 10 medical and surgical nurses and five respiratory therapists. 

Gallagher said the ambulatory surgery center is being transitioned into an ICU unit with 12 beds. They are also renovating space in two separate locations on the second floor of the women’s center to convert the space into patient care areas to house an additional 16 patients if needed.

Hazel Hawkins will have the capacity to house 77 patients, with six of those beds dedicated to OB and maternity patients.  

“The hospital received a waiver from the California Department of Public Health and approval from California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to increase their bed capacity from 25 to 77 beds during this patient surge,” Gallagher said. 

Gallagher added that additional staff is required in order to accommodate the increased bed capacity. They’ve been able to acquire extra help through a staffing agency and from the San Benito County Office of Emergency Services.  

Gallagher said the influx of Covid-19 patients has gradually increased over the past week and they recorded a high of 21 patients on Monday. As of Jan. 11, the ICU has seven Covid-19 patients and all of them are on ventilators.  

The medical/surgical unit currently has 22 patients, with 12 of those Covid-19 positive. The OB and maternity department is currently busy with five moms and five babies.

“The hospital census fluctuates daily and as patients are discharged, the hospital is able to admit those who are holding in the ER,” Gallagher said.

Covid-19 patients account for approximately 62 percent of the hospital’s inpatient admissions, according to Gallagher. She said the rest of the patients being admitted have a multitude of other medical issues that require hospitalization.

“Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, in cooperation with San Benito County Public Health, has additional contingency Surge Plans and will activate them accordingly as the need arises,” Gallagher said. 


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