Although he cautioned he didn’t want to come across as alarmist, Peterson Health president and CEO said Thursday that local medical facilities are being strained, and that the high number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 regionally has prevented some local patients from getting transferred to other facilities.
“We’re going into the 11th month of this pandemic, and it has progressively gotten worse,” said Cory Edmondson, Peterson Health CEO.
Average daily hospitalizations for COVID-19 at Peterson Regional Medical Center ranged eight to 10 in September/October and 24 in December. As of Thursday, there were 34 such patients in the hospital, down from an all-time high of 36 in December, Edmondson said.
“I wouldn’t say we are overwhelmed, but we are busting at the seams as a whole,” Edmondson said.
He spoke of a case in which nine health care workers were required to take care of one COVID-19 patient at the hospital.
“It is labor-intensive to take care of a (COVID-19) patient, especially when it’s an ICU unit,” Edmondson said.
Edmondson said he recently spoke with a representative of the state health department who estimated that COVID-19 infections will probably increase for the next five weeks until vaccines are widely available. He said that vaccines likely won’t be available for the general public until March. The city, hospital and county are cooperating to establish a call center this month that will enable area residents to register to be vaccinated.
Edmondson urged people to do what they can to prevent spreading the coronavirus, which authorities have said can spread via people who are not experiencing any symptoms.
“I don’t want my staff overwhelmed” due to people “not being compliant” with infection-control recommendations,” Edmondson said. “We need your help to do all the things needed to mitigate COVID-19 in our community.”
He applauded all Peterson Health employees and encouraged people to thank health care workers when they see them.
“Give them a word of encouragement; they need that now more than ever — we need that now more than ever and the support of the community.”
For the most recent information available from Peterson Health and answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19, visit their website.