A well being system serving a swath of the central Appalachian mountains stated Wednesday it would halt nonemergency elective procedures as a result of surging circumstances of COVID-19 and capability considerations at its Virginia and Tennessee hospitals.
Ballad Well being officers introduced the change, which is able to take impact Monday and final for a minimum of 30 days, at a information convention the place they once more implored neighborhood members to comply with fundamental public well being tips corresponding to masks sporting and social distancing.
“The best way we’re seeing folks act locally, the best way we’re seeing folks attend massive gatherings, we will count on to see the numbers persevering with to rise greater and better. So I am pleading with you, please change your habits if you have not but,” stated Eric Deaton, Ballad’s chief working officer.
Gov. Ralph Northam stated at a separate information convention Wednesday that well being officers imagine Tennessee’s lack of a masks mandate and different restrictions has helped improve the virus’s unfold in neighboring southwest Virginia communities.
Ballad officers stated pausing the surgical procedures — together with these beforehand scheduled — was a tough resolution that may influence sufferers’ high quality of life and the system’s funds. However they stated it was essential to unlock employees to offer bedside care as an alternative. They stated there have been no plans to furlough any employees.
The well being system has additionally acquired a refrigerated morgue truck at its hospital in Johnson Metropolis, Tennessee, and has ordered a second one for a hospital in close by Kingsport, Ballad President and CEO Alan Levine stated.
Northam raised the specter of morgue vans final month whereas providing an emotional response when requested why he imposed new restrictions across the state because the variety of new circumstances continued to rise in Virginia and across the nation.
On Wednesday, the governor stated “all choices are on the desk” in the case of including new restrictions, and he criticized Virginians who’re ignoring social distancing measures.
“It is simply egocentric. Rights are vital, however we additionally want to emphasise accountability,” Northam stated.
Northam, a physician, additionally stated at his information convention that the state is hoping to get its first batch of a coronavirus vaccine within the coming weeks. Early doses shall be prioritized for well being care staff, nursing residence residents and others however it would take a number of months earlier than there are sufficient doses for most people.
Virginia has reported greater than 242,000 circumstances of COVID-19 because the pandemic started and the virus has been chargeable for a minimum of four,113 deaths within the state.
Ballad’s seven-day p.c positivity charge within the areas of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee it serves reached a file excessive of 20% on Wednesday, in response to knowledge the system launched.
Deaton stated that charge is among the many highest within the nation and is worse than both Virginia’s or Tennessee’s statewide charge.
“The unfold of COVID-19 isn’t underneath management in our space. The course that we’re heading with our numbers isn’t sustainable,” he stated.
The system had about 13 or 14 obtainable ICU beds as of Wednesday, he stated.
Ballad officers stated probably the most irritating issues for its nurses is figuring out that some folks proceed to match COVID-19 to the flu or the frequent chilly and don’t imagine them after they speak about how critical and lethal the virus could be.
“While you’re a nurse and also you see this with your personal eyes and also you get into the automotive and also you hear folks on nationwide speak radio or on tv dismissing these info as if they are not actual, it is disheartening to a nurse who has to rise up the subsequent day and are available again and do it another time,” Levine stated.