The Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County has canceled all of its elective surgeries until further notice due to an “overwhelming” influx of coronavirus patients.
Additionally, the hospital, its clinics and the emergency room have no rapid COVID-19 tests to offer. According to the hospital, the tests are in short supply nationwide as a result of the increase in cases.
“We are at a critical juncture in Sweetwater County,” said Deb Sutton, MHSC Public Information Officer. “The hospital is treating and admitting more and more COVID-19 cases every day. There has been an incredible surge in cases nationwide. We are not an exception. This comes at a time when MHSC, like other U.S. hospitals, is facing a nursing shortage, as well as limited access to bed availability in regional centers for higher levels of care.”
The nine ICU beds MHSC has available were all full as of Sunday night, Sutton said.
About 98% of MHSC’s COVID inpatients are unvaccinated, the hospital said, a trend similar to that seen nationally.
General Surgeon Dr. Brianne Crofts said many of the severe COVID-19 cases and deaths seen in recent days have been largely preventable. The difference between last year’s COVID spike and the one being seen now is there is now a vaccine available.
“However, the healthcare providers will continue to fight the battle against all medical emergencies,” she said. “By getting vaccinated, you are helping the healthcare system and your community. Please help us by getting vaccinated, so we can take care of everyone, regardless of their medical emergency. This current crisis is preventable.”
Emergency MHSC Incident Command meetings over the weekend painted an alarming picture, Sutton said.
The incident command team reviewed the pandemic plan it has in place should the hospital need more inpatient bed space, in the ICU or otherwise.
One ER physician recently reached out to 31 hospitals in a four-state area in an effort to place a critical patient.
MHSC also is getting calls from other hospitals inquiring about its bed availability, said Emergency Services Director Kim White, the hospital’s incident commander.
“We had a hospital in Texas calling us for beds,” White said. “How many hospitals are there between here and Texas must they have called before they got to Sweetwater Memorial?”