Local hospital systems experience staffing strain, reschedule elective surgeries as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge

Local News

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – Hospitals in our area are facing a staffing shortage as the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 rises.

“Right now, staffing is a concern with hospitals,” John Williams, Director of Disaster Preparedness for the South Carolina Hospital Association said. “Community spread is not exempt from healthcare workers.”

Tidelands Health Chief Operating Officer, Gayle Resetar, says they’ve had several staff members get exposed to the virus in the community, and a handful exposed at work.

Resetar explains the largest challenge that created the strain on staff, was how quickly the surge of hospitalizations happened.

“In June we had maybe 3 COVID patients positive in our hospitals, and today we’re at 50-some patients in between our 2 hospitals, and so the challenge is that, that was just fast;it ramped up very, very fast.”

The strain on staff prompted Tidelands Health to start conversations about support with state agencies like the National Guard should the surge continue.

“I have initiated some conversation with state agencies,” Resetar said. “Whether that’s National Guard, or toward DHEC, or toward our local emergency preparedness folks; if there are access to any other resources, we want to make sure we turn over every possibility.”

Tidelands is also reassigning some administrative nurses to support the areas of “greatest need.”

The health system has upped it’s recruiting and is offering incentive pay for those who pick up extra shifts. Tidelands also confirmed to News13, the health system is rescheduling inpatient elective surgeries.

“Many hospitals are curtailing their elective surgeries, their non-emergent surgeries, to allocate those team members throughout the hospital itself,” Williams explained. “Clinical care physicians are definitely, there is a strain.”

While Grand Strand Medical Center is not canceling or postponing scheduled surgeries, a hospital spokesperson confirmed to News13, the hospital is not scheduling any surgeries that are not time sensitive.

“The recent surge of COVID-19 patients is affecting all area hospitals. As the area’s only level one trauma center, we have a responsibility to preserve resources and beds to treat the most severe injuries and illnesses,” Grand Strand Health Mark Sims said in a statement. “That is why we are working with our physicians to determine what new, non-emergent surgeries can be safely delayed.”

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