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Tallahassee, Valdosta hospitals feeling impact of COVID surge

Posted at 6:56 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 18:59:06-05

(WTXL) — Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and South Georgia Medical Center are both seeing an uptick in cases and the issues that come with a surge.

As the Omicron variant spreads throughout the world, our community is feeling the impact of the easily spread variant.

The positivity rates for our largest counties — Leon and Lowndes — are both seeing rapid increase's meaning more people are receiving a positive test than in weeks past.

Dr. Dean Watson, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare's Vice President and Chief Integration Officer, says TMH is feeling the impacts of the surge.

"Our job is to protect the Community and provide quality, high-quality care," said Dr. Watson.

Now, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare is running into a new issue; people using the emergency room as a testing site. Now many healthcare workers with TMH are home sick with the virus.

"Let me remind you that this virus, it's not just its impact on the Community. It also impacts our ability to provide care to you all, we have numerous colleagues out with COVID right now. So anytime you start losing colleagues, our ability to provide surgical care, interventional care, heart care, emergency care, all those things are impacted so that's why you see us take these measures," said Dr. Watson.

While South Georgia Medical Center isn't dealing with people rushing the emergency room for tests, SGMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Dawson says the hospital is feeling the impact of the rapid spreading surge.

"We've doubled from six to 11 overnight basically. Of course, our concern is whether that could continue to rise, and we don't know how much that will rise, but certainly, based on the trends that we've seen in the past when we had these other surges. It wasn't uncommon that you go from six to 11 to 20 to 30 to 50."

Both doctors stress that the most important tool is the vaccine.

"It's a first barrier of defense against this illness. What we're seeing in the hospital, there's no question that there is a discrepancy, and that the people that are coming in to be admitted are far more likely to be unvaccinated," said Dr. Dawson.

Right now, TMH is monitoring the positivity rate and discussing any potential changes to protect patients and staff.