MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW/AP) – As coronavirus hospitalizations surge in South Carolina, Tidelands Health has begun talking to the National Guard about assistance with staffing, hospital spokesperson Dawn Bryant confirmed to News13.
“Like many health systems, Tidelands Health is working to expand staffing as we respond to a rapid and dramatic increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Bryant said.
The number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients in South Carolina hospitals surged 21% in the last week and 6% in the past day, according to DHEC data. 1,404 hospital beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients, while 2,587 beds remain open.
Hospitals in Horry County and Georgetown County have filled past the state average as coastal communities set records for new coronavirus cases. Across South Carolina, 75% of hospital beds had a patient on Wednesday. Eighty percent of beds were utilized in Georgetown County. Horry County’s hospitals were even fuller, with 85% utilization.
Tidelands is addressing the surge by reassigning staff to support areas of “greatest need,” offering incentive pay to staff who pick up additional shifts, aggressive recruiting, using temporary agencies to hire temporary nurses, and rescheduling inpatient elective surgeries, according to Bryant. “Working with the South Carolina Hospital Association, we’re also exploring the availability of National Guard clinical professionals to support our efforts as has occurred in other states facing a COVID-19 surge.”
Derrec Becker, spokesperson for South Carolina Emergency Management Division, confirmed Tidelands Health asked for assistance. “We’re working with them to determine exactly what their needs are. ” No other hospitals have asked for assistance, Becker said.
TRACKING CORONAVIRUS: County-by-county coronavirus data
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said in late June the state has a plan to add hospital beds if necessary. He said he could also stop elective surgeries, as he did at the beginning of the pandemic.
McMaster has refused new statewide mandates, such as requiring masks or re-closing businesses, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.