For the first time in nearly two months, Ballad Health was treating more than 100 people hospitalized with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Monday, worrying hospital officials and prompting renewed concerns about the impact another increase in hospitalizations will have on healthcare workers who’ve battled the virus for more than a year now.
“It’s really hard on the team,” Ballad’s Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift said. “They’ve come through this, they now know what could lie ahead and that’s really disheartening and that’s hard for a lot of them.”
Ballad’s Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton said the system’s in-house modeling shows a potential surge to more than 150-160 hospitalizations if current trends continue.
“It was very alarming that we were back over 100 patients again through this weekend,” Deaton said. “We believe that, if you look at the forecast modeling that our team has been doing here, that we could be back over 150 to 160 inpatients again within a matter of time, so that’s obviously very concerning.
“That does not get us back to the 370 or so patients we were at at one time, but we could see that increase and, again, this continued stress it puts on our healthcare system is very difficult,” he continued.
Deaton also said the rise in cases and hospitalizations is likely due to an increase in the circulation of virus variants, as well as spring break travel and fewer people following virus prevention guidance.
Across the hospital system’s 21-county service area, new cases have increased week-over-week in each of the last four weeks.
“Our (Corporate Emergency Operations Center) was set up 400 days ago today,” Deaton said, later noting that there are some “very active strains” circulating in the region. “We still, unfortunately, have a fairly high rate of COVID-19 across our region.”
Swift encouraged people to receive vaccines to prevent another surge in hospitalizations, as the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19.
“If people will really see the numbers and think — even if you were thinking before, ‘I don’t need to get vaccinated’ — just get vaccinated for our community. We have appointments available this week, and I will be glad to help you if you have had trouble getting an appointment,” Swift said.