ARH hospitals see ‘tremendous increase’ in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Officials say they have the most hospitalizations since the pandemic began
ARH Sees large increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations
ARH Sees large increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations(WYMT)
Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 6:06 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - As Kentucky continues to report record numbers of COVID-19, Appalachian Regional Healthcare officials say hospitalizations for the virus are increasing tremendously.

“Now we have the most ever that we’ve had hospitalized COVID patients throughout our system," said Dr. Maria Braman, Chief Medical Officer at ARH.

After the fourth of July holiday, Dr. Braman says COVID-19 hospitalizations went down, but now they are seeing another spike.

“It’s very concerning but really from what I’m seeing in terms of people not always masking and really continuing to have house parties it’s not surprising," said Braman.

Dr. Braman did say the patients are not becoming as sick as early on in the pandemic.

“Even though they are coming in to be hospitalized, we’re not utilizing the ventilators nearly as much as we were earlier on in the pandemic, before we had some of the tools that we have now for treatment," Braman said.

She said the hospitals are far from reaching capacity and does not want people to be afraid, but to focus on doing their part to stop the spread.

“I want people to seriously understand that there is a point when we reach capacity. We’re not there yet. We’re not concerned about being in that situation right now, but that’s why we need your help," said Braman.

Another concern for Dr. Braman is adding flu season to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that could make on their capacity.

“We’re always concerned about that and that’s something that we aggressively work on on a day basis where we’re trying to insure that we can maintain capacity for patients when they need us," said Braman.

Dr. Braman told WYMT, her biggest worry is staffing shortages at ARH’s hospitals.

“We’re seeing a real concern not only here in the ARH system but throughout Kentucky and the nation for the number of nurses that are available to help take care of patients," said Braman.

She said going into the pandemic, there was a country wide nursing shortage, and now the need is even greater.

Dr. Braman did say they have had employees in quarantine, but not from being exposed at their facilities.

“Our employees, the majority of them that have had to quarantine, have quarantined from exposures that they received out in the community," said Braman. “We’ve certainly lost them for periods of time because of either illness or needing to quarantine.”

Dr. Braman also told WYMT, they do not have a shortage of PPE or ventilators. She says this is a benefit from being a healthcare system. If they have shortage at one hospital, they can bring ventilators in from another community.

“The way this virus works is that all communities don’t surge at the same time. We have not seen that, thank goodness up to this point, so we might have a need in one area where another one of our communities is not having that same level of need," said Braman.

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