WATCH: Centra Health officials discuss conditions at hospitals amid pandemic after recent surge of patients in ER


UPDATE 2:22 p.m.: Officials from Centra Health discussed the current conditions at local hospitals during Wednesday afternoon’s briefing, especially amid a recent surge of patients in the emergency room.

According to Dr. Christopher Lewis, the night of Monday, Aug. 23, Lynchburg General Hospital had a record-high 72 people in the ER waiting room, reaching 136 patients in the ER at one point even though they normally accommodate no more than 100. Of those patients, 30 people were waiting for a bed because they had nowhere else to go.

“We were well above 100 percent capacity,” said Dr. Lewis. “…We are, whether you realize it or not, we are one of the busiest emergency departments in the state of Virginia, but this situation was beyond anything we have seen anytime in recent memory.”

As both hospitals and caregivers are being pushed to their limits, Dr. Lewis says Centra is taking action, such as canceling some elective surgeries due to the inability to care for these patients with regard to staffing and beds.

In addition, Dr. Lewis says the hospitals have implemented the “Code Disaster” staffing policies, which allows “floating nurses” to be reassigned to different units; starting a “Helping Hands” program to help nurses who are stretched beyond their max in any available capacity; and continuing to expand COVID-19 units as needed, which further limits the amount of care given to usual patients.

All of Centra’s hospitals are also being used to their maximum flexibility and capability in order to move patients to and from hospitals within the system.

Dr. Lewis reiterates that Centra hospitals are not turning patients away, but asking community members to truly think about whether your condition justifies emergency room car instead of telehealth, primary care doctors, or urgent care centers.

“We do know that this strain on healthcare systems is a national problem. We’ve all seen it on the news, but I’m here to say that we now see it here. This is now here in our community. It’s affecting us, it’s affecting our families, our friends, and our neighbors and, in particular, our caregivers, who are already tired and burnt out from battling a pandemic for over a year now,” said Dr. Lewis. “But unfortunatley it’s a pandemic that’s clearly not over and our COVID census is continuing to increase.”

According to Dr. Lewis, Lynchburg General Hospital currently has 70 patients positive for the coronavirus on their floors, which is not only up from the 45 reported on Aug. 16 during Centra’s last update, but also brings the hospital extremely close to pushing into another medical unit to accommodate more patients.

Of those 70 patients, 56 are on the COVID-19 floor, 14 are in the ICU, and eight are on ventilators. In addition, only six of the 70 patients were fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Southside Hospital reportedly has 13 virus patients, two of whom were offloaded from Lynchburg General and two were from the Gretna ER.

For the month of August, there have already been 21 virus-related deaths at Centra hospitals, three of which just happened during the overnight hours from Tuesday, Aug. 24 into Wednesday, Aug. 25.

As for the caretaker vaccination requirement, Dr. Michael Elliott says Centra is starting an internal vaccine unit next week to help employees get vaccinated. More than 1,000 caregivers have already attested that they have received the vaccine as part of Centra’s process.

However, nine employees — approximately 0.1 percent of the employee population — have reportedly resigned since this mandate was announced.

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — With COVID-19 cases climbing across central Virginia, Centra Health is providing an update on the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday afternoon.

This briefing comes more than a week after Centra Health announced that all 7,600 caregivers are required to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 3,454 new COVID-19 cases, the largest single-day case spike since mid-February; 129 new virus-related hospitalizations, the largest single-day hospitalization spike since mid-March; and 22 new virus-related deaths around the Commonwealth as of Wednesday, Aug. 25.

The VDH says 160 of those new cases and 14 of those new hospitalizations from Wednesday are from the following localities in the Central Virginia Health District and the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District, which is where the majority of Centra Health facilities are located:

  • Amherst County: 18 new cases and three new hospitalizations
  • Appomattox County: Seven new cases and two new hospitalizations
  • Bedford County: 26 new cases and one new hospitalization
  • Campbell County: 17 new cases and two new hospitalizations
  • Danville: 31 new cases and three new hospitalizations
  • Lynchburg: 31 new cases and three new hospitalizations
  • Pittsylvania County: 30 new cases

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