Ballad Health struggles with surge of COVID-19 patients in far SWVA


ABINGDON, Va. (WFXR)– On Tuesday, Ballad Health announced they are in need of help after announcing shocking new COVID-19 metrics.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 24, 283 patients have been hospitalized and 27 people have died across the region of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. Ballad Health serves nearly 1.2 million people, and with a vaccination rate of 38 percent, Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaten says hospital staff is alarmed with a disturbing trend.

Deaten says in the next two weeks, the hospital system is expecting an increase of 500 more patients who will need beds.

“We are actually holding, at this time, intensive care patients in our emergency department waiting for beds to open up,” said Deaten.

Starting Thursday, Aug. 26, all elective surgeries are being put on hold to make room for more beds.

According to Deaten, on the night of Monday, Aug. 23, one intensive care unit hit max capacity. He says the number is increasing faster than the last surge.

“Since July 4, they have increased over 1,900 percent. Our inpatient census [on Tuesday] is at 283. Last January, our highest was 361, so we are really getting close to that number again,” said Deaten.

Deaten encourages everyone to get vaccinated and to wear a mask. He says that 96 percent of the patients in their hospitals are unvaccinated. He also says that other hospital systems, like Carilion and LewisGale, should prepare for surges.

“Prepare early, anticipate that the surge this time is happening much quicker than it did before. Buy extra ventilators. If you need to have your PPE, train your staff, be prepared for that…It’s like disaster preparedness, and you have to plan for it,” said Deaten.

He says to fight back against the virus, the hospital system has started using antibodies to combat COVID-19, and the ‘Safe at Home’ Program.

The goal is to send borderline-admitted patients home with a pulse monitor, and a thermometer. This way they will be able to hold virtual heath meetings, to monitor their care.

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