‘This was preventable’: Cone Health sees increase in COVID patients

Coronavirus

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Cone Health could need more staff to deal with a climbing COVID hospitalization rate.

100 people were hospitalized by the end of July, and Cone Health analysts predict the number of hospitalizations could double every 10 to 14 days.

FOX8’s Tess Bargebuhr spoke with a doctor treating some of sickest COVID patients about their plan for an influx of them.

“We’re handling the wave of patients with our staff, with current staff, without travel nurses, but we’re prepared to bring on more should it get to that point,” said Dr. Brent McQuaid, the lead COVID physician with Cone Health.

He says the hospital has enough ventilators and negative pressure rooms for an expected spike in hospitalizations. 

“As we’d seen declining numbers, we had not needed to staff things like our infusion center as frequently and as heavily as we had before. So we’ll need to provide more services for things like that,” McQuaid said.

Cone Health reports 52 patients hospitalized as of midnight across the system. 

On July 2, there were only seven. 

This is compared to the peak on Jan. 12 when doctors and nurses were caring for 266 people. 

Cone’s Green Valley Campus closed its doors March 5 after caring for more than 4,700 patients.  

McQuaid says there are no plans to reopen the facility. 

“We now have a very large number of negative pressure rooms throughout our health system that can handle a large number of patients,” he said.

He’s seeing many of the same symptoms as last year: shortness of breath, muscle aches, fever and fatigue.

what has changed is the age of the patients. Some of them are in their 50s. 

FOX8 asked if doctors and nurses are getting frustrated treating people who chose not to get vaccinated. 

“You have to understand you’re talking to a pulmonologist. So…I make my living by taking care of folks who have emphysema lung cancer. In healthcare, we deal with the consequences of folks’ decisions on a day-to-day basis,” McQuaid said. “I wouldn’t say that we’re angry. We’re certainly not. We still care for our patients. It does sadden you, though, because you know that this was preventable, and you hope that the experience that unfortunately many patients are going through will help convince their loved ones that… they should be vaccinated to prevent this from happening.” 

the NC Department of Health and Human Services reported that 381 people were hospitalized statewide on July 2. Today, that number is 1,465. 

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