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TMH COVID unit hits capacity as surge continues to break hospitalization records

On Monday TMH announced that at least 70 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19. The hospital...
On Monday TMH announced that at least 70 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19. The hospital says 12 of those patients are in the ICU, including one child.(WCTV)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - COVID hospitalizations are breaking records across the Big Bend, and now Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare is pleading with the public to get vaccinated.

On Monday TMH announced that at least 70 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19. The hospital says 12 of those patients are in the ICU, including one child.

Hospital staff say the COVID unit is at capacity, and TMH continues to add more COVID space, as well as staff members to treat those in need of care.

“Hospitalizations and lengths of stay have increased, out intensity of treatments, they have increased as well,” said Chief Clinical Officer Ryan Smith. “It’s emotionally and physically draining, it’s an intense setting for the staff.”

In June the hospital says they were averaging about five COVID patients per day, with frequently having days with no COVID positive patients.

The hospital is now reaching new records, with 70 being cared for on Monday, only four of whom hospital staff says have been vaccinated.

Chief Integration Officer Dr. Dean Watson says while it’s a painful benchmark, he’s not surprised it was reached. He added, one of the hardest parts of this surge is knowing it could have been prevented through vaccinations.

“We are just beside ourselves with sadness, watching these people supper in the hospital when the majority of these could have been home, safe and healthy,” Watson said.

Hospital executives say with the COVID unit at capacity, they continue adding more units as needed.

On Tuesday TMH is also bringing on extra staff to help treat patients who are qualified but don’t typically treat bedside patients, like educators, leaders and organizational advisors.

“We have reached our capacity and are having to develop out of the box ways of caring for patients, which include pulling people who aren’t traditionally doing bed side care to care for patients,” said Stephanie Derzypolski, Chief Communications Officer. “We are having to set up new units, new areas in the hospital to care for these patients.”

This surge, doctors say, is caused by the Delta variant. It’s stronger, and impacting younger and otherwise healthy people.

The only real answer, they say, is to get vaccinated.

“It truly is the best tool to prevent further infections and it will help us reduce the continuation of this current crisis,” Watson said.

Based on the UK models, doctors expect the current surge to continue for at least two weeks.

They hope it starts to once again trend downward in the next four to five weeks.

TMH is one of several hospitals in the area halting elective surgeries due to redirecting resources to fight COVID. The hospital expects them to be paused at least through the end of the week.

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