LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Centra Health is seeing its highest number of coronavirus patients of the entire pandemic. According to hospital officials, there are 133 people hospitalized at Lynchburg General Hospital and Virginia Baptist Hospital due to COVID-19 as of Tuesday — beating last year’s high of 131.
This news comes as Centra works to move some patients to Bedford Memorial Hospital or Southside Community Hospital.
On top of record-high hospitalizations, Centra officials announced during a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 11 that hospitals are also dealing with staffing shortages.
The senior vice president and chief clinical officer for Centra, Dr. Chris Lewis, did not specify how many employees are out due to COVID-19, but says Centra is on track to beat the peak of employee cases at the hospital from October 2021, which was the result of the delta variant.
On Monday, Jan. 10, Gov. Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 84 to allow more hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, but Lewis says there won’t even be enough staff to care for those extra visitors at this rate.
Doctors at Centra urge you to get vaccinated and get your booster shot, saying that more than 75 percent of the 151 COVID-19 patients currently being treated at Centra hospitals are unvaccinated. Meanwhile healthcare systems are spread thin.
“We’re using every resource we can. We filled up those spaces, we have the proper equipment and we know how to take care of COVID patients,” said Centra Senior Vice President and Chief Physician Officer Dr. Matthew Foster. “What we can’t manufacture is more nurses. We can’t manufacture more doctors. We can’t manufacture more technicians, laboratory personnel, and people that help around our hospital and make sure that we can provide the care we need.”
Foster says another huge factor putting a strain on workers right now is people — sometimes 70 to 100 people per day — coming to the emergency room looking to get tested for COVID-19.
Centra officials urge community members seeking coronavirus tests to go to a pharmacy or a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) testing site instead of the emergency department.
Centra is also holding two testing clinics per week through the rest of the month, with one coming up on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
For more information about COVID-19 testing opportunities provided by Centra Health and the VDH — as well as nearby vaccination sites — click here.