All 25 of Morgan Medical Center’s inpatient beds are full as of Tuesday, Aug. 24, according to hospital officials.
“We are now completely full. All 25 beds are occupied and 13 of those are with COVID patients,” said Megan Morris, director of public relations and community affairs for Morgan Medical Center.
“The number of patients we currently have hospitalized with COVID is the highest number we have had at any one time throughout the pandemic,” said Adam Bedgood, Chief Nursing Officer for Morgan Medical Center. “With vaccines now readily available we are encouraging our community members who are still unvaccinated to please follow through with getting a vaccine. If you are only partially vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer, it’s just as important to follow through with your second shot.”
Current patients hospitalized with COVID at Morgan Medical Center range from age 33 to 95, with an average age of 53. Morgan Medical Center does not have any current patients on ventilators, but noted the hospital has several “state-of-the-art ventilators” ready to be used if the need arises.
“Our staff members house-wide have been phenomenal throughout the pandemic. While they are tired, they have continually stepped up to the challenge, picked up shifts, accepted reassignments, and assisted wherever a need may be. To help with the pressure from current COVID numbers, we have added additional staff shifts, particularly in our Emergency, Med-Surg and Respiratory Therapy departments,” said Morris. “We have also enhanced our cleaning protocols with the help of our robot staff members, McDreamy and McSteamy! After our environmental services team comes through to clean a room one of the robots is brought in to do an additional cleaning with UV technology. With the help of the robots, 99.9 percent of SARS-CoV-2 can be deactivated on surfaces in two minutes. The robots are also used in waiting areas, restrooms, and other high-traffic areas.”
Morgan Medical Center is mirroring a statewide trend as hospitals are overwhelmed due to a surge in new COVID-related hospitalizations. The Athens Banner Herald reported that as of Tuesday, Aug. 24, 97 percent of the the Region E’s ICU beds are now full. Region E is a 12-county hospital district, which includes Morgan County.
According to the hospital region, there were 229 COVID-19 patients in medical facilities accounting to about 35 percent of patients on Monday, Aug. 23. That is the highest percentage of COVID patients since January 2021.
For Region E, as of Aug. 23, 90.5 percent capacity had been reached for inpatient beds. ICU beds in Region E were at 97 percent capacity with emergency room beds at 62 percent capacity. Region E’s stock of ventilators were in use by 68 percent.
Last week, Georgia surpassed 1 million confirmed COVID cases as hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths continue to climb.
On Monday, Georgia reported more than 16,000 new confirmed COVID cases, bringing the state’s total case count to 1,036,304 since the pandemic began last year. Georgia has reported a total of 19,243 deaths due to COVID, and 70,777 hospitalizations.
In Morgan County, 281 new COVID cases were reported in the last two weeks, bringing Morgan County’s total case count to 1,494 for cases testing positive molecular test. Only molecular test results are used by the DPH in identifying confirmed cases. Another 1,080 COVID cases have been identified through antigen testing in Morgan County. Morgan County has reported a total of 24 deaths and 100 hospitalizations due to COVID since the pandemic began.
Georgia leaders and health officials are encouraging all eligible Georgians to be vaccinated, touting this week’s announcement that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has now been granted full FDA-approval.
As of Monday Aug. 23, 50 percent of Georgians have received at least one dose. Only about 42 percent of Georgians are fully vaccinated.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is hoping vaccination rates will go up in light of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) coveted stamp of full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“As I stated in my letter to the FDA on Aug. 5, it is my hope more Georgians will become comfortable getting vaccinated once the safe, effective vaccines have full federal approval. Today’s move by the FDA to grant full approval of the Pfizer vaccine is a welcome step in the right direction, and I encourage them to take similar action with the two COVID-19 vaccines still under Emergency Use Authorization,” said Kemp in a statement on Monday. “I continue to urge all unvaccinated Georgians to talk with a medical professional about getting their shot.”
The rate of new cases is growing exponentially as hospitalizations and deaths spike with no peak in sight, according to Georgia health officials.
According to Georgia’s Department of Public Health, as of Monday, Aug. 23, the average daily increase of coronavirus deaths in the last 14 days increased to an average of 35.21 deaths per day. The previous 14-day period the average death count was 11.36 per day. There have been 1,036,304 cases confirmed in Georgia, an increase of 16,719 since Friday, Aug. 20.
Over the last 14 days, DPH is reporting an average of 6,672.64 new cases per day. That number has nearly tripled. During the previous 14-day period, the average newly confirmed case count was 2,415 per day. According to DPH, 669 COVID patients have been hospitalized since Friday across the state. Over the last 14 days where numbers were reported, the average daily increase in new patients was 247.71 new patients a day. Over the previous 14-day period where numbers were reported, the average daily increase in new patients was 109.00.
If this trend continues, Georgia leaders are concerned already overwhelmed hospitals across the state will surpass capacity.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “In 10 of the state’s 14 hospital regions, more than 90 percent of ICU beds were in use on Wednesday, with two regions exceeding 10 percent of capacity. The ICUs at some of Atlanta’s largest hospitals were so full they had to divert ambulances carrying patients who needed intensive care. Some hospitals that did have ICU beds open didn’t have the critical care staff needed to use them.”
Kemp announced last week that he would not implement a statewide mask mandate or any shutdowns to slow the spread despite rising case counts, rising death tolls, and rising hospitalizations.
However, he announced $125 million in new funding for struggling hospitals to secure more staff and bed space for ailing COVID patients. He also urged all eligible Georgians to get vaccinated as soon as possible, noting that more than 90 percent of all coronavirus hospitalizations in Georgia are among the unvaccinated.
“The most important thing for Georgians to do at this point, if you’re not vaccinated, is to please talk to your doctor or medical professional or someone that you trust that perhaps has been vaccinated and make a good health care decision for you and your family,” said Kemp.