Medical staff at the Southeast Georgia Health System had hoped the COVID-19 vaccine would bring some relief that they say they all desperately need, but instead, they’re dealing with another surge, which is putting a strain on health care workers.
The Health System said it is at capacity. As a result, some elective surgeries are being postponed because there are no beds to put a patient after a hip surgery for an overnight stay. The hospital is also going back to limiting visitors to one per patient.
Nurses are pleading with the community to get vaccinated as they see an influx of COVID-19 patients fill up the hospital both in Glynn and Camden counties.
“Long wait times,” said Dr. Alan Brown, chief medical officer. “If you come in through the emergency room, the emergency room is already holding backed up admissions because we don’t have the beds to put them in. We’re taking steps backward where we were a year ago.”
Some hospitals are creating field hospitals because they’re running out of beds. Brown said the Health System could reach that point within the next 10 days.
“In order for us to get herd immunity, if we’re able to take the vaccine, you have to take it,” he said. “Because there’s a percentage of the herd that just can’t take the vaccine or get protected like the kids under the age of 12 or compromised patients.”
Southeast Georgia Health System said there are 95 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized -- 72 at the Brunswick campus, where there are 16 on ventilators, and 23 in St. Marys.
Brown said the community’s vaccination rate is less than 40%.
“These patients are getting sicker faster,” said Jan Jones, director of Patient Care Services. “We’re seeing more people come in and most the people that were seeing are unvaccinated.”
Jones said this surge isn’t like the one last year. She said it’s not only physically exhausting but mentally exhausting.
“This is causing a huge strain on our Health System. Our physicians are nurses and really every department in the hospital,” she said.
Jones said it’s a revolving door of patients that they can’t stop.
“We’re tired, and we’re at our wits’ end,” said Jones. “As soon as a patient is discharged from our critical care unit, or worse, is deceased, there’s another patient to put in that bed.
As the cases surge in Southeast Georgia, the Health System is encouraging parents to have their children age 12 and up get the vaccine. ids – age 12 and up to get the vaccine.
While masks are not mandatory in Glynn County classrooms, medical experts are recommending them for when school starts Tuesday. In Camden County, school has already begun, and masks are required.
The Health System offers free COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone age 12 and older at its Brunswick and Camden campuses. Dates and addresses are listed on the Health System’s website at sghs.org/covid19-vaccine. Individuals with questions about COVID-19 symptoms can call the Health System’s free screening hotline at 912-466-7222.