Ahead of Labor Day weekend, three of Charlotte’s largest health systems are recommending residents reconsider their travel plans as hospital admission rates reach dangerous levels due to Covid-19.
As more and more patients are enrolled, CaroMont Health, Novant Health, and Atrium Health all have staffing issues and urge the public to be careful during the Christmas holidays.
“The hospitals are supported,” said Dr. Sid Fletcher, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of Novant Health, in a joint press conference Thursday. “When we talk about our emergency rooms and other patients trying to get care and other types of care that are required within the building, we become very challenged.”
As of Thursday, nearly 1,000 people with Covid-19 had been hospitalized at Atrium, CaroMont and Novant facilities, and 92% of those Covid patients were unvaccinated. Health officials also reported that 126 Covid-19 patients were life sustaining in their hospitals. Of those who were life sustaining, 97% were unvaccinated, according to data published by the hospital chains.
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Sources: Atrium Health, CaroMont Health, Novant Health
The hospital chains also reported that more Covid-19 patients under the age of 60 were being admitted. This is particularly worrying, said the health authorities, because vaccinations can curb Covid 19 infection rates.
As reported in other parts of the country, rising Covid-19 numbers have led to growing problems in local hospitals.
“To be honest, beds are scarce. We are running out of resources, ”said Fletcher.
While hospital facilities can add more bed space and receive additional resources, the biggest challenge, officials say, will be providing adequate staff.
Due to stress and personal health issues during the pandemic, some health care workers have left their jobs.
“Our team is tired. You’re incredibly tired, ”said Fletcher. “We have fewer employees working more hours and they have been with us for 18 months.”
As Covid-19 numbers have risen, senior physicians in the three hospital systems have been forced to postpone certain “non-urgent” patient procedures in order to have staff in all areas of their facilities, the companies reported.
“We don’t do one over the other,” said Fletcher. “We have to take care of Covid patients and all the other disease entities that we have.”
At a briefing at the White House on Tuesdayrecommended Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said those who are not vaccinated should not travel this Labor Day weekend.
Local health authorities repeated this recommendation.
“Wear a mask, do what you can to keep yourself from getting sick and potentially spreading to others,” Fletcher said. “Reconsider traveling if you are unvaccinated and at high risk.”