Chatham County case numbers trending down, hospitals still struggling


Child patient with IV line in hand sleep on hospital bed. Medical palliation healthcare concept

Photo: Getty Images

BySarah Winkelmann

Published:Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:21 AM EDT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - COVID case numbers and transmission rates in Chatham County are trending down this week but hospitalizations remain high.

At St. Joseph’s Candler, the chief nursing officer says they are still at max capacity. There are fewer COVID patients in the hospital but they are still seeing largely unvaccinated patients and younger patients.

St. Joseph’s and Candler hit their peak at 165 patients a few weeks back, as of Monday, they were at 79 patients. Of those COVID-19 positive patients, more than 90 percent of their patients are still unvaccinated.

The average age of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 is around 58 years old. During the prior surge, the average age was around 70.

Currently, the hospital system only has one critical care bed available St. Joseph’s and one critical care bed available at Candler.

“We are continuing to try to run 2 separate hospitals here so we run a COVID hospital and a non-COVID hospital,” said Sherry Danello, the VP of patient care services and the CNO. “We have opened units that were never opened before and just last week we opened an admission unit, really an extension of the emergency department of St. Joseph’s so that we can continue to care for COVID and non-COVID patients.”

Not only are the hospitals at capacity for how many patients they can take care of, but also they are at capacity of their staff working.

They are working hard to recruit more nurses and respiratory therapists but so is every other hospital in the country. Danello says the best way to help the still overrun and overworked hospital is to get your COVID-19 vaccine.

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