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'We don't have room for these surgeries': Gov. Inslee addresses strain on hospitals during Spokane visit

Gov. Jay Inslee and Gov. Brad Little are both visiting Eastern Washington and North Idaho on Wednesday as hospitals continue to be challenged by COVID-19.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Governors Jay Inslee and Brad Little are in Eastern Washington and North Idaho on Wednesday.

Gov. Inslee is visiting Spokane and the Methow Valley and Gov. Brad Little will visit Coeur d'Alene. Inslee first visited Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center to participate in a roundtable discussion with healthcare workers on prolonged impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare systems across the state, according to a press release from the governor's office. Gov. Inslee held an availability at 10:10 a.m. with Sacred Heart staff that was livestreamed on the KREM 2 YouTube page

Gov. Little visited Heritage Health’s monoclonal antibody treatment center at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds at 9:15 a.m. The treatment center opened early in September to reduce the worst symptoms of COVID-19 and prevent hospitalization for people with mild to moderate cases.

After his visit, Gov. Little cautioned that the monoclonal antibody treatment is not an alternative to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Monoclonal antibody treatments are one more tool in our toolbox to save lives and reduce hospitalizations. We are doing what we can to make these life-saving treatments widely available, but Idahoans are urged to choose to receive the vaccine to protect themselves and ensure healthcare access is available to all,” Little said in a press release. 

Inslee addresses canceled surgeries

During his media availability, Inslee addressed the impacts of the strain on Washington's healthcare system. 

"I've been told that there has been over 2,000 surgeries that have been prevented or stopped because we don't have room for these surgeries," Inslee said during the briefing. "These are women with breast cancer, people with brain tumors, people with cardiac problems that haven't been able to get their surgery here in Spokane County, because of a very specific reason and that's because people aren't getting vaccinated." 

Watch the full press conference below or click here:

The governor also thanked healthcare workers for their dedication throughout the pandemic and he shared what one healthcare worker told him.

"The thing that keeps you going is her commitment to her team members as a very difficult but she's made a decision to stay through this pandemic and work with a tremendous team," he shared. "So thanks for being a great team member. I know they appreciate it, please thank them." 

Inslee asked doctors about who people should talk to if they are hesitant about getting the vaccine and took questions from the media. Inslee said he doesn't anticipate healthcare workers in the state to quit their jobs due to the vaccine mandate. 

"As people come closer to this deadline, I'm very confident that more and more people will make this life saving decisions for them, and their families and for their communities, frankly, because this is a community issue," Inslee said. "When people don't get vaccinated, they put everybody at risk. They prevent people from being able to get surgery for canceled, they put their children and their grandparents at risk."

Following his Spokane visit, Inslee will then visit the Methow Valley to participate in a series of meetings with local elected officials, business owners, healthcare workers and local fire service to discuss climate change related fire and wildfire smoke conditions in the area. He will also join a roundtable on Career Connect WA in the region.  

Inslee will end the day with a tour of Sun Mountain Lodge to see the damages from fires and talk with business owners who have seen economic impacts in the region.