Hospitalizations increase in Coastal Health District; Savannah hospitals have surge plan

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There are less than 30 critical care beds available Monday in eight counties served by the Coastal Health District, according to new data from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).

Savannah’s three major hospitals say they have plans to — altogether — add more than 100 beds, if COVID-19 cases continue to spike. In the past six days, data from the Coastal Health District shows there have been 51 new hospitalizations in Chatham County. Before that, there were 80 hospitalizations over a 2-week span.

A representative for Memorial Health says ICU census numbers change constantly and that they often include people who need critical care for reasons that are unrelated to the pandemic.

On Monday, the hospital says there were 49 coronavirus patients. Of its 73 ICU beds, Memorial Health is using 80 percent of them, according to Associate Chief Medical Officer Doctor Stephen Thacker.

Right now, he says the average length of stay is nearly 5 days. In April, the average length of stay was closer to 7 days.

“Like most hospitals, we have capacity beyond our licensed beds to account for an influx of patients. While we have not had to activate it yet, we have a surge plan ready to go. It allows us to create additional ICU beds,” said Dr. Thacker in a statement to WSAV.

In a previous interview with WSAV, Dr. Thacker explained the details of the surge plan. He says Memorial Health can increase the number of ICU beds to 150.

Saint Joseph’s/Candler has a similar surge plan. A representative for the hospitals said Monday they have 11 critical care beds available. They can increase the number of beds by 34, if needed.

On Monday, Saint Joseph’s had 38 coronavirus patients. Candler had 31 coronavirus patients.

In Bulloch County where coronavirus cases are also spiking, Public Safety/Emergency Management Director Ted Wynn says lately, his colleagues have reported that coronavirus patients are a bit younger and sicker. Over the weekend, a sixth person died from the virus.

Wynn is working with city officials — who have created a COVID Response Task Force — and Bulloch Squashing the Spread to distribute thousands of masks to residents.

A team distributed 4,000 masks this weekend and there are plans to do it again on Wednesday and Thursday. Two Facebook pages will be updated with information:

Wynn says there is no plan right now to issue a mask mandate, though he touts a mask’s ability to protect others and a says a mandate is not out of the question.

“I think the public is tired of [coronavirus], but nonetheless, that doesn’t make it any less of a threat to the health and well being of our society,” said Wynn. “And I think if people can do what they need to do, I think we can see that curve start to go down.”

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