AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The number of people checking into the hospital for COVID symptoms keeps increasing after unsafe holiday gatherings. Local health leaders told us they are working hard to make room and keep staff levels at bay.
“Over the past several weeks, before Thanksgiving, we averaged around 30 in patients. That changes day to day. Right now, today, we have 73,” said Doctors Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Farr.
“We’re seeing record and near record levels of both patients testing for COVID. Our percent positivity rate, meaning our percentage of people testing positive is the highest we’ve ever seen it,” Dr. Phillip Coule said, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Augusta University Health.
Dr. Farr said Doctors Hospital is already seeing patients come in with positive COVID-19 cases from Christmas on top of Thanksgiving infections and ahead of New Years. He said the increase means you just have to be patient.
He added, “You may stay in the emergency room a little bit longer than you want to because we may not have a bed ready for you. But you’re still going to receive outstanding medical care while you’re here in the hospital. If you’re having surgery, you may stay in the recovery room longer while we get a bed ready for you. “
It’s the same battle across town at Augusta University where Dr. Phillip Coule said they are canceling elective cases and procedures and stopped some outpatient procedures to redirect staff to tend to those most critical. The in patient COVID numbers were lower than 70 before the holidays and now, it’s close to 100. So he told us they are creating extra space.
“Our recovery area in the operating room is now also taking care of ICU level patients,” he said. “We’ve had to put adult patients up to the age of 30 in the children’s hospital.”
And both hospitals report staff members are personally dealing with COVID too, so some of them are absent. Both Drs. Farr and Coule want+
people to know it’s time to think carefully before going to the hospital.
“Encourage people if they do have something that is urgent and emergent, come on in. Otherwise, see your primary care provider or utilize one of the urgent care facilities in town,” Dr. Farr said.
While you can expect some wait time, doctors stress not letting that deter you from getting the care you need now.