Brunswick hospital adds mobile morgue as COVID cases spike

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – The Southeast Georgia Health System is surpassing its peak number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

As of Thursday, there are nearly 160 COVID patients, according to president and CEO Michael Sherneck. This surpasses the previous peak of 98 patients in July 2020.

“This surge is just something that I don’t think any of us could have expected,” Sherneck said. “We’re still in the growing stage and I’m worried over the course of the next couple weeks we’re going to see the numbers continue to increase.”

The Brunswick hospital is preparing for increased deaths as well. In the last two weeks, 16 patients have died from COVID, according to Sherneck.

As a proactive step, the hospital has added a mobile morgue in case the permanent morgue reaches its six-body capacity. The mobile morgue can hold 10 bodies.

“Because of the nature I think of the delta variant, the people that it’s affecting, it does have the potential to have a mortality level that can exceed our expectations at this stage which is regrettable that that’s the reality,” Sherneck said.

The hospital is also bringing in additional beds and ventilators to help with the increased demand in the emergency room. Sherneck said the hospital’s mobile COVID testing site is seeing close to 1,000 people a day, which is helping to slow traffic in the ER. 

“It still doesn’t change the reality that we still have a lot of people coming in and a lot of people who are leaving without being seen,” Sherneck said.

Data from the state health department shows 41% of Glynn County residents are fully vaccinated. 85% of COVID patients at Southeast Georgia Health System are unvaccinated, according to Sherneck.

“Not everyone has accepted the vaccine for what it is,” he said. “I think it’s really just an opportunity, in my mind, to help reduce the impact of COVID on our lives. I think we all have a responsibility to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I think herd immunity really depends on people getting the vaccination.”

On Thursday, the hospital announced it will begin administering the third dose of the COVID vaccine to immunocompromised people. 

Those with documentation of their medical condition can get the third dose at the Brunswick campus on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. You can also get the third dose at the Camden campus on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The hospital is also offering appointments for the first and second dose at both campuses.

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