Valley hospitals are prepared for a potential holiday COVID-19 surge

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 5:51 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Parts of the country are seeing increased rates of COVID-19 cases, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Local health officials said numbers are looking good in the Valley, slowly coming down as expected, but there are some red flags as we head into the holidays.

One being the number of people who are unvaccinated, or those who are vaccinated but have not gotten their booster shot.

“Folks who have gotten their vaccines six to eight months ago may be experiencing some waning immunity, Robert Gardwood, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Sentara RMH said.

Everyone gathering indoors this holiday season can also mean increased transmission. However, local hospitals say they are prepared should a surge happen in the coming weeks.

Sentara RMH said the hospital maintains a continued state of readiness.

“We’ve developed quite an extensive plan. Our leadership meets weekly in multiple areas, including the operating room, the emergency room, the floors, developing plans and assessing the situation,” Garwood said.

Those plans include how to assess patients, where they will go and how staff and resources will be delegated to those patients.

Garwood said being unprepared for a surge could drain their resources and staff and would affect their ability to take care of patients with non-COVID related issues.

“Having a plan in place all the time and constantly reassessing the situation on a daily/weekly basis is key to making sure we’re always ready for whatever comes down the road,” Garwood said.

But he added that no plan is good without an excellent team to execute it.

“At Sentara RMH, we are blessed with a dedicated team of physicians, nurses and support staff that allow us to maintain a constant state of readiness while providing top-notch health care to our community,” Garwood said.

Community members can do their part to keep COVID cases down as well.

“Vaccinations have been shown to be highly effective in keeping people from progressing to serious disease and hospitalizations. That’s number one,” Garwood said.

He encourages everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated to do so. It’s also important to make sure to wear a mask and social distance if you’re in big groups over the holidays.

In a statement to WHSV, Augusta Health said they stay prepared for potential surges as well.

“As we have consistently demonstrated throughout the pandemic, Augusta Health’s team is always prepared to handle patient surges associated with COVID-19. We monitor key local and hospital statistics daily so we can recognize trends and provide a proactive response that not only addresses a surge in COVID cases, but one that also allows us to meet the ongoing healthcare needs of our community.

Augusta Health is greatly encouraged by the recent approval of COVID vaccine boosters and vaccinations for younger children. Our local community’s response to these vaccination authorizations by the CDC and VDH has been excellent, and Augusta Health administered its 100,000th dose of vaccine since our clinics began.

That said, during the winter holiday seasons, indoor gatherings increase-so to keep all safe and healthy Augusta Health asks the community to please vaccinate, stay socially distanced, wear masks indoors at large gatherings and wash hands frequently. "

Augusta Health also noted that the hospital has given more than 1,000 doses to children age 5-11 in about the first 10 days of administration to that group. Since those doses are given in separate clinics for patient safety, the hospital hit 1,000 doses in four clinics.

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