‘You should be worried’ Memorial Health prepares for surge of COVID-19 cases

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Operations at Memorial Health are changing daily.

Members of the hospital’s infectious disease department are watching as cases within the region continue to rise.

Memorial Health Associate Chief Medical Officer and Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Stephen Thacker is expecting a surge in local cases at the end of the month.

“Should I be worried about this? And the answer for me both personally and professionally is yes,” said Thacker. “You should be worried about this, right.”

Thacker says Georgia is seeing its peak later than virus epicenters like New York and Louisiana.

“I think it’s just a combination of the population density as well as the type of people that live in that community,” said Thacker. “Again, I think I have to stop saying this because it’s here but again its not a matter of if, it’s more of when for your community.

Memorial Health said they are stocked up on masks and ventilators and anticipate they’ll be able to handle the peak when it comes.

The hospital has a total of 630 beds, 71 vents and 82 ICU beds.

“We are preparing for a potential increase of number of patients being admitted to our hospital in the range of anywhere from 150 to 200,” said Thacker. “That would be the worst-case scenario and I hope the community has heard that message so we never reach that worst-case scenario.”

On avergae, Thacker tells WSAV News 3 between 30 and 40 patients are tested for the virus daily.

Results usually take about 72 hours and he says only about 10% are coming back positive.

“April 6th is a goal not set in stone, but that’s the goal that are team is shooting for to have in house rapid testing that would give us results within 45 minutes,” said Thacker.

Within the past few days, Memorial Health implemented a universal mask policy, which means everyone, including our reporters, has to wear one inside the hospital.

WSAV News 3 asked Dr. Thacker if these masks protect you from getting the virus.

“There’s probably a lower likelihood that it’s going to benefit that so if someone wants to wear a mask when they are going through their community because its gives them a sense of safety,” said Thacker. “But it also helps keep them from touching their face and their mouth I would never tell them not to.”

Memorial Health is preparing an outside tent area to handle an influx of patients. Doctors said this will mainly serve people with mild cases of respiratory illness.

Dr. Thacker said at this time there are no talks about off-site patient placement, but he says it may be something to consider for members of the homeless population who need to be quarantined.

“What strategy are we going to use as a city and county to meet the at risk population needs and those are ongoing discussions about that,” said Thacker. “We may need to utilize hotels or motels that would offer their walls to protect the most most at risk people in our community.”

courtesy Memorial Health

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