Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, three of Charlotte’s largest healthcare systems are recommending that residents reconsider traveling plans as hospitalization rates are reaching dangerous levels because of Covid-19.
As more patients are being admitted, CaroMont Health, Novant Health and Atrium Health are all experiencing staffing issues and are urging the public to be cautious during the holiday break.
“The hospitals are backed up,” Novant Health senior vice president and chief clinical officer Dr. Sid Fletcher said in a joint news conference Thursday. “When we talk about our emergency departments and other patients trying to receive care and other types of care that’s required within the building, we are very challenged by that.”
As of Thursday, nearly 1,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 at facilities operated by Atrium, CaroMont and Novant, and 92% of of those Covid patients were unvaccinated. The health officials also reported that 126 Covid-19 patients in their hospitals were on life support. Of those on life support, 97% were unvaccinated, according to data released by the hospital chains.
The hospital chains also reported seeing more Covid-19 patients under the age of 60 who are being admitted. This is particularly disturbing, the health officials said, because Covid-19 infection rates can be curbed through vaccination.
As reported in other parts of the nation, rising Covid-19 numbers have led to growing issues at local hospitals.
”Quite frankly, beds are scarce. We are running short on resources,” Fletcher said.
While hospital facilities can add more bed space and get extra resources, the biggest challenge will be providing adequate staffing, according to officials.
Because of stress and personal health concerns during the pandemic, some healthcare workers have left their jobs.
“Our team is weary. They are incredibly tired,” said Fletcher. “We have less staff that’s working more hours, and they’ve been at this for 18-months now.”
As Covid-19 numbers have risen, lead physicians at the three hospital systems have been forced to delay certain patient procedures that were deemed “not urgent” in order to have staff in all areas of their facilities, the companies reported.
“We’re not doing one thing over the other,” Fletcher said. “We have to take care of Covid patients and all those other disease entities that we have.”
At a White House briefing Tuesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky recommended that those who are unvaccinated avoid traveling this Labor Day weekend.
Local health officials repeated this recommendation.
“Wear a mask, do what you can to prevent getting sick yourself and potentially spreading to others,” Fletcher said. “Reconsider travel if you are unvaccinated and high risk.”