Southwest Virginia hospitals and EMS services ask for community’s help due to rise in ER demands


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Healthcare and first responder workers from all over the region held a joint news conference at the Berglund Center on Thursday.

The goal was to send an urgent message to community members to get vaccinated and follow COVID-19 protocols to slow the spread of coronavirus as hospitals are seeing an uptick in cases.

Chief David Hoback of Roanoke Fire-EMS says the number of people calling 911 for COVID-related issues has increased significantly over the last two months, putting a strain on how healthcare workers effectively respond to a crisis.

“This is not a hospital issue. This is not a Fire-EMS issue,” said Hoback. “This is a community issue. And we need to do this together. That’s why you saw the regional partners here. From Henry County to Craig, to Botetourt to Rockbridge. And you have all the healthcare systems coming together to relay how urgent this message is.”

Dr. Patrice Weiss, Chief Medical Officer of Carilion Clinic, says that people should continue to follow proper protocols.

“Please get vaccinated. Do all the things we know. Wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands,” said Dr. Weiss. “If you begin to develop symptoms, reach out immediately to your primary care physician so we can get you tested and potentially intervene if you are positive with symptoms prior to you ever needing hospitalization.”

Dr. Weiss says that these steps should be taken to make sure hospitals are able to see people who have serious cases.

The overall message from healthcare workers and frontline workers was that they are united and want to see people taken care of properly.

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