Grand Strand hospitals running into occupancy issues as COVID-19 cases increase

Local hospitals running into occupancy issues as COVID-19 cases increase

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Some Grand Strand hospitals are having issues keeping their beds available as coronavirus numbers continue to increase.

According to the latest DHEC data, Horry County hospitals are 83.2% full and Georgetown County hospitals are 81.9% full, two of the highest rates in the state.

WMBF News dug deeper to find out how many patients are in Horry County hospitals.

DHEC sent us the information and the agency found there are 5,500 patients in the county and 86 of them are coronavirus patients. The numbers also show that Horry County hospitals have seen a 75.5% increase in coronavirus patients.

DHEC classifies Horry and Georgetown counties, as well as several counties inland, as the Pee Dee region. That region has seen a 20% increase in occupied hospital beds over the past two months.

The process of preparing beds also differs from others across the state. Some hospitals are also changing visitor restrictions amid the increase in cases across Horry County

RELATED: Conway Medical Center restricting visitors due to increase in COVID-19 cases

A variety of factors, such as a growing population, tourists arriving for the summer, catching up on elective surgeries in addition to the virus itself has made making beds available difficult for hospitals along the Grand Strand.

“The hospital reached capacity with their most critical units,” said Dr. Jon Pangia, Regional Director of Grand Strand Medical Center. “So yes, as of late, we’ve been sending patients out to the closest, best place that can care for them.”

One of the hospitals Grand Strand diverts to, Tidelands Health, was on diversion for a portion of this past weekend due to the virus.

As of Tuesday morning, they had 20 coronavirus patients in the hospital, and another 14 as under investigation while waiting for test results.

That’s the most number of confirmed and potential cases they’ve had since the outbreak started.

“We’re all in a better place than we were back in March,” said Gayle Resetar, Chief Operating Officer for Tideland Health. “We still don’t need this many people in our community sick, this many people exposed.”

Resatar added another big part of the issue is people delaying treatment.

“Delaying other procedures or care just creates different health problems down the road, so it’s our hope that we can co-exist with this surge of patients that we currently have with COVID and manage through this period. It could take us a while,” she said.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.