MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - Hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 are surging along with the rise of cases, and hospitals along the Grand Strand are feeling the impacts.
“The issue is staffing. It’s not a physical space issue because people will say, ‘Do we need to build a field hospital? Do we need to do something like that?' and the answer is no,” Amy Stevens, vice president of Tidelands Health, said.
Stevens said she thinks Tidelands Health and other area hospitals have the capability to expand to take in more coronavirus patients. However, that’s only if they have enough staff to work to treat them.
On Thursday, Tidelands Health officials said they have 54 COVID-19 patients in house, with another 10 waiting to find out if they have the virus.
Currently, Conway Medical Center is treating 35 COVID-19 patients and waiting on results for 10 of them, according to spokesperson Allyson Floyd.
Grand Strand Medical Center staff said they currently have 51 patients, down from their high of 56 on July 6.
During a teleconference with DHEC Thursday, the agency said Tidelands Health told the state they need more staff to continue to treat the influx of patients needing to be hospitalized.
“Tidelands has put in a resource request to EMD for staffing support. We’re trying to work with them to see what their exact staffing needs might be,” a representative from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said during Thursday’s teleconference.
A representative from the SCEMD said they’re looking into contracting services or reaching up to the federal government to help Tidelands, but they haven’t made any decisions yet since the resource request was just submitted earlier Thursday.
According to the SCEMD, many hospitals have come up with their own surge plans and right now they aren’t looking into alternate facilities or surge plans anyway.
However, SCEMD officials said last week they started speaking with hospitals daily.
Stevens said they didn’t know they needed to expand staff back in March and April to prepare, because of just how fast the situation in the Grand Strand changed.
“People were afraid to come to the hospital, people were delaying medical care, and so you went from this situation of empty hospitals to full hospitals very quickly,” Stevens said.
Stevens stressed it’s important to wear a mask, wash your hands, and help slow the spread of COVID-19 to help health care workers fight the virus.
“It’s disheartening to them when they pick up social media and someone says it’s a hoax or it’s not real. It is real; they’re living in it everyday,” Stevens said.
Future testing events for coronavirus can be found here.