— “We’re now seeing the surge that our hospitals in Florida saw months ago. This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions,” said Chris Self, CEO at AdventHealth Manchester. The COVID-19 surge escalated quickly throughout the month of August in Clay County, and hospital capacity has continued to be at 100% or greater throughout the month of September. On July 30th, AdventHealth Manchester (AHM) only had 1 COVID positive ICU patient. By August 31st, AHM had 13 COVID positive ICU patients, 7 of which were placed on ventilators. AHM is a small hospital with only 6 ICU beds and has been operating at 200% or greater ICU capacity over the last several weeks.
Through the implementation of their extensive emergency response plans, AHM has worked tirelessly to care for the increased volume of patients that have flooded the hospital in recent weeks due to COVID-19. This plan includes utilizing the surgery department space for additional ICU bed capacity, creating ICU overflow space into PCU and other areas, cancelling all non-emergent and elective surgeries, the creation of COVID-19 units, and redeploying outpatient clinical teams to the hospital.
“I wish people could see the work that is going into caring for our community during the last month.” Self shared, “We are running 14 ICU beds, when we normally have 6, and have created an entire unit of just COVID-19 patients. Our emergency department is often seeing more patients than we have in years. Our clinics are doing more COVID-19 testing than ever before. We have had to borrow and buy more ventilators. We have had to limit our outpatient clinics’ capacity, so we can use those staff members to help in the hospital. We have staff working around the clock, some of our clinicians have worked shifts every day for over 3 weeks.”
The view from Clay County feels bleak as more patients from the community have been hospitalized than ever before due to COVID-19. These patients are younger and sicker than AHM has seen throughout the entire pandemic. Often, COVID-19 patients account for over 60% of the inpatient census and many are admitted to critical care units for extended periods of time and dying at higher rates.
Self continued, “More than 90% of the patients that are being admitted for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, meaning most of the critical illness we are seeing could have been prevented. Our area still has some of the lowest vaccination rates, and in turn, some of the highest COVID-19 positivity rates, not only in the Commonwealth, but in the entire country. Our team members are exhausted and heavy-hearted with the number of sick patients being cared for in our hospital. It is taking a major toll, physically and emotionally on our staff and their families, and I wish everyone could see that impact when they make their decisions about how to care for themselves and those around them. Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask is not a choice that affects only you.”
The vaccine continues to be our best defense against COVID-19 hospitalizations and death. AdventHealth has partnered with Clay County Schools, Cumberland Valley District Health Department, and Volunteers of America to help increase the vaccination percentage for Clay County by offering vaccination events at all schools located in Clay County. They recently held a vaccine event at local manufacturing company, Phillips Diversified Manufacturing, and will hold the last event of the series on Friday, September 17th at Clay County High School for the Ohio Valley Wrestling Match. To date, the team has helped vaccinate 157 community members. Second and first dose vaccinations will begin on September 20th at Oneida Elementary.
AdventHealth Manchester asks for continued prayers for their team members and patients as they continue their battle against COVID-19 and encourages everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated.