New COVID-19 cases, surgery backlog lead to higher hospital occupancy rates

Coronavirus

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Several hospitals in the Pee Dee region are reaching maximum capacity, according to hospital occupancy reports from S.C. DHEC (Department of Health and Environmental Control).

The most recent acute hospital occupancy reports show Georgetown County at 100% capacity. Dillon, Florence, and Horry County are over 90% full. Medical leaders said COVID-19 patients are increasing patient proportion, but there is also a surgery backlog.

Hospital beds are filling up fast as doctors take on surgical procedures, on top of what doctors say could be another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We do not know if it will continue to rise or if we will come off that peak. Again, this is new territory,” Gayle Resetar, Tidelands Health Chief Operating Officer, said.

Medical leaders say occupancy is climbing across the region.

Tidelands Health is operating at 108% capacity. McLeod at 92% and Grand Strand Medical Center is at 91%. However, not all are COVID-19 related.

“We are in the process of trying to catch those up, those patients that had to delay their surgical procedures,” Resetar said.

While hospital occupancies are starting to trend similarly to numbers in July, medical leaders are confident that protocols, medications, and procedures have improved enough to handle a spike in cases this time around.

“We are hoping that the COVID population that was here this time has a slightly less length of stay as some of those earlier numbers where we were facing the first big challenge of COVID hospitalizations across the Grand Strand,” Resetar said.

McLeod Health says this is a normal increase they see during the fall and winter months. The number of patients fluctuates daily.

Tidelands Health reports nearly 30 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Friday. Resetar said that’s a high number compared to the five or six they had a couple of weeks ago. Those numbers are not as high compared to June and July.

“COVID never went away. We dropped our census volume because we were in much better control of spread, and we were down to five and six, but we never had zero,” Resetar said.

To prevent a spike in flu hospitalizations, doctors are recommending people get a flu shot. They said even if you get the flu, with a flu shot, symptoms are far less severe.

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