‘It was almost like Christmas’: Hospitals in Grand Strand, Pee Dee celebrate zero COVID hospitalizations

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 6:48 AM EDT
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MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s the moment every hospital in the country has been working toward for two years.

Tidelands Health has zero hospitalized coronavirus patients. The hospital system hit that number Monday and hasn’t had another one since.

Dr. Nathan Mattox, critical care director, said seeing that number hit zero was like Christmas all over again. It’s a cautiously optimistic celebration, as the team intends to stay vigilant and prepare for any new variants.

“I don’t think every body realized it at first until we made the count and realized it,” said Mattox. “Then it was like, it’s zero!”

The staff at Tidelands Health had grown accustomed to having at least a few patients battling severe coronavirus symptoms. They’ve had at least one hospital bed taken up by a coronavirus patient 24 hours a day for more than two years.

After doing everything in their power to get people back on their feet, the hard work finally paid off.

“Now we have a little bit of time to take care of ourselves, to get our staff some well-deserved rest and relaxation, some time off,” said Mattox. “And preparing in case something were to happen again.”

Mattox says the drop in hospitalizations will give their researchers time to assess the data and see how they can improve their operation for any possible new variants.

McLeod Health has also managed to hit zero COVID hospitalizations at four of its hospitals throughout the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Weeks says getting to that number is helping patients feel more comfortable coming back for things other than COVID.

“We have more people wanting to come in for elective procedures,” said Weeks. “Our outpatients offices and practices are seeing more people come back for routine preventative health care, which they’ve typically postponed.”

As things transition back to a little more normal, Mattox is looking back on the whole experience, realizing it has shaped his career and that of his fellow doctors and nurses.

“I think it will be the high moment of our careers, those of us that were here will talk about this forever,” said Mattox.

Both Tidelands and McLeod have taken this drop in hospitalizations as an opportunity to relax their visitation policies back to normal.

That means anyone in the hospital can see more family members for longer hours.

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