Staff with the Northeast Georgia Health System are warning that they may be forced to ration care if COVID-19 cases continue to rise post-holiday.
“We’re struggling to find staff and space to care for people, and our frontline workers are exhausted,” said Doctor Clifton Hastings, Chief of Medical Staff for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, in a press release sent from the health system. “If COVID cases continue to increase, we may be forced to start making decisions about who we can treat effectively and who we have to send elsewhere or turn away. That’s a decision no physician should have to make, and a situation no one in our community should have to face.”
According to the release, medical staff at NGHS have been treating double the number of COVID-positive patients since before Thanksgiving. There were 133 COVID-positive patients being treated across the system's hospitals and longterm care facilities on November 24; as of today, 296 COVID-positive patients are receiving treatment. The average percentage of positive COVID-19 tests that the system receives has also gone up, from 16 percent to 28 percent during the same time frame.
“Early in the pandemic, we learned that limiting some services and expanding others can create additional space to care for patients – which we’ve continued to do – but we’re still faced with the challenge of maintaining enough qualified physicians and nurses to provide high-quality care,” said Doctor John Delzell, COVID-19 Incident Commander for NGHS. “We’re extremely thankful for the staffing support the state has supplied, and we will continue to request additional help, but hospitals across the state all need those same resources.”
Northeast Georgia Health System received around 5,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on December 17 and has vaccinated approximately 2,000 frontline workers during the past week. The Health System also received around 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine today. More shipments are expected in early January.
“It’s important to remember that vaccination isn’t a magic bullet that will end the pandemic immediately,” said Doctor Supriya Mannepalli, NGMC’s Medical Director of Infectious Disease Medicine. “People are tired of hearing this, but the best way to protect yourself, the people you love and your community this holiday season is to not visit family and friends outside your household, or take precautions if you do.”
According to information provided in the release from NGHS, Wednesday’s COVID-19 Daily Status Report on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website states that Hall County has seen more COVID activity than any county in the state outside the metro Atlanta area. Hall County ranks:
- #4 in Confirmed Cases per 100K – 7,847
- #5 in Confirmed Cases – 16,193
- #5 in Hospitalizations – 1,526
- #9 in Deaths – 210