Some Lowcountry hospitals near acute bed capacity, worry another COVID surge happening

Some Lowcountry hospitals near acute bed capacity, worry another COVID surge happening

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with Tidelands Health in Georgetown County say they believe parts of the state are entering another surge in COVID-19 cases.

All but 21 of their acute hospital beds were full on Friday with more COVID patients and other patients needing to medical care.

“We were in numbers of four and five for COVID hospitalized patients and now we are at 33 COVID hospitalized patients right now,” Tidelands Health Chief Operating Officer Gayle Resetar said. “That is definitely surging back up. We hope that it levels off and that’s it’s not as bad as it was back in July.”

Officials said now is not the time to let your guard down about COVID-19.

“As the community sees hospitalizations rise that creates an additional level of alarm and concern that the community should have,” Resetar said. “We should understand that rising hospitalizations is very different than doing more tests on asymptomatic people and picking up more positive cases.”

Tidelands Health officials said they are better prepared now to handle a potential surge in COVID cases, but they are still urging people to practice certain safety measures.

“A rise in hospitalization is a rise in the those that are acutely ill with this illness, so we need to be as diligent as ever. We all believe there’s a bit of COVID fatigue. It’s frustrating. People are tired of the limitations and structure and mask wearing, etc. But there couldn’t be a more important time,” Resetar said.

Healthcare providers are also worried about how this year’s flu season may impact hospital care.

“We’ve absolutely encouraged through any channel we can, folks to get a flu shot this year because it’s not that the flu shot protects you from COVID, it’s that the healthcare system is very taxed right now. So if you get the flu shot, even if you get the flu with the flu shot because that does sometimes happen, most health experts will tell you that your symptoms will be less severe and you’ll be less likely to be hospitalized from the flu,” Resetar said.

According to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, Georgetown County’s acute hospital beds are at 88.5% capacity, Berkeley County’s are at 82.5% capacity, and Charleston County’s are at 93.2% capacity.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare officials explained the numbers shared by DHEC for bed occupancy represent staffed beds.

“During this pandemic, Roper St. Francis Healthcare has been able to provide beds for all patients needing care while working safely within our system’s bed capacity. In the event of a surge, we have the ability to make additional beds available for COVID-19 patients. We encourage Lowcountry residents to continue following CDC guidance on masking, social distancing and hand washing to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” a statement said.

MUSC representatives share that their Charleston hospital has the capacity to add up to 150 extra beds as needed for acute COVID-19 care. Whether that additional capacity is counted or not makes a difference in what those percentages mean and ultimately how the data should be reported.

“MUSC Health -Charleston frequently operates at full bed capacity in non-COVID-19 times, so our team is well-versed in managing a “full house.” Tony is reaching out to our folks in bed management to get you today’s current census, however, I have not been alerted to any abnormal concerns for this time of year,” a statement said.

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