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Augusta Health asks for community’s help battling COVID-19

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:31 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Local health care staff are struggling to manage another COVID-19 surge, and they’re asking for community help.

Augusta Health and UVA Health provided an update today on their response during a joint press conference. Mary Mannix, President and CEO of Augusta Health, said the omicron variant may be less severe than the delta variant, but this surge has new challenges.

“People say ‘well it’s not as bad as delta,’ but it has many more characteristics of this variant that makes it much more contagious, many more mutations,” said Mannix.

Mannix said Augusta Health has ramped up outpatient treatments to prevent patients from being admitted. That, along with higher vaccination rates, has helped the hospital.

“Our numbers have been a little bit lower than with the delta surge. They’ve ranged from in the 40s to the high 50s, but it is definitely much more of a capacity challenge because our staffing levels are very different with this surge,” Mannix said.

Lower staffing levels can be blamed on a few factors. Mannix said many employees are leaving the medical field. On top of that, many employees have gotten sick.

“Our staff are getting exhausted, and many staff are deciding to pivot their careers and focus in different directions, but also with the high transmission of omicron, we have staff out every day,” Mannix said.

For the staff who continue to work in the medical field, burnout and high stress levels are all too real.

“It’s important to know our team members have been at this for two years now, and that is a very long time to be working under this tremendous amount of stress,” said Mannix.

Mannix said pandemics don’t last forever, and ending COVID-19 will take high vaccination levels.

Augusta Health and UVA Health asked their communities to take precautions like handwashing, social distancing and masking on top of vaccination. They also stressed the importance of getting a booster shot to prevent severe COVID-19 infections.

Make an appointment to get a vaccine here.

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