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COVID Peak Date Pushed to Sept. 15

Healthcare officials had hoped to see a peak last week in the number of COVID-19 cases occurring in the Vidalia area, but the numbers are still climbing. On Monday, Dr. Karen McColl, Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Health Meadows Hospital, said experts have now pushed the peak date to September 15. As of Monday afternoon, Meadows was treating 57 COVID patients whose average age is between 30 and 54 with 15 on ventilators. The hospital is licensed for 57 beds, but has admitted 70 patients who are being accommodated in areas usually reserved for postoperative outpatient care, or for other uses, McColl said.

“There are no beds to be had,” Mc-Coll said of the medical center’s capacity. She said that many patients are being held in the Emergency Department awaiting a bed or referral to another medical facility. Right now, Meadows staff is making 20 to 30 calls a day in an attempt to refer patients to other hospitals. “We transfer one to two patients continued from page

per day, but the ability to transfer is getting harder and harder. Most hospitals are full. But we are managing,” McColl said.

The medical facility has not admitted any children who have been diagnosed with COVID, but would typically refer children to Savannah or Augusta for treatment of respiratoryrelated diseases. McColl said some children who have been seen at Meadows in the Emergency Department have been referred to Savannah.

Last week, Governor Brian Kemp called out the National Guard to assist 10 facilities across the state with the greatest need. That included Brunswick’s Southeast Regional Medical Center in Brunswick. McColl said that Meadows received word yesterday that GEMA would be sending nurses to help out at Meadows. The medical center requested from GEMA 12 nurses and six respiratory therapists. GEMA does not expect to be able to fill all of the positions, but Meadows is calling in former personnel that they will pay on a per diem basis to fill the gaps.

McColl said Meadows has called in nurse practitioners from other locations like immediate care and from the Women’s Center to work as ICU nurses. Meadows is also using some CNRAs, who typically deliver anesthesia, to work in ICU. Since the medical center has suspended elective surgeries during the crisis, these nurse anesthetists are available. “It has been a struggle, but we have been able to expand areas for patient care,” McColl said. The good news is that the Meadows Vaccination Clinic is handling 40 to 60 patients daily. The Department of Health is also offering vaccinations. “But testing is abominable,” McColl said. That is why Meadows and the Department of Health are teaming up to offer a local COVID testing site through a third-party vendor that will open on the Meadows campus on Wednesday, September 1.

The site will be set up in the Meadows rear parking area and operate six days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“This will be ongoing until we see volumes (of cases) at a level that the community can withstand testing on its own. We are anticipating the mobile testing site to be here through September,” Mc-Coll said.

“We need to spread the word and get folks to believe that testing and vaccinations are how to end this crisis,” McColl emphasized.

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