CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry doctors say the surge in COVID-19 cases seen at hospitals across the region is taking a toll on their hospital systems and staff. Doctors say they’re seeing about twice as many COVID-19 cases today as compared to January of 2021.
COVID-19 patient numbers from Roper St. Francis, The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Trident Health each show almost two times the number of those hospitalized from this time last year. Numbers from Tidelands Health in Georgetown and Murrells Inlet also shows significant increases in patient numbers.
Roper St. Francis officials report there are 126 people hospitalized across their system as of Tuesday compared to 77 this time last year. Trident Health currently has 97 hospitalizations, 51 at Trident Medical Center and 46 at Summerville Medical Center compared to 47 last year, 29 and 18 respectively. Tidelands Health says they have 51 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized.
MUSC officials say they currently have 140 COVID-19 patients, up from 48 this time last year. 30 of those patients are in the intensive care unit with 24 of them on ventilators.
It’s something doctors say is taking a toll on hospitals and staff. “It’s definitely wearing on them,” says Chief Nursing Officer Tami Frost at Trident Medical Center.
“We’re seeing just a high number of hospitalizations in general, like the population of patients that are coming in are more ill,” says Frost.
Doctors say a common misconception is comparing the Omicron variant to a cold. Dr. Robert Oliverio, Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Care and Population Health for Roper St. Francis says while Omicron has been less deadly, it’s more infectious.
“Those patients, even if they are not as sick as Delta was, they’re still COVID patients,” says Dr. Oliverio. “They take up COVID resources, they take up COVID beds.”
The rise in cases is impacting more than just those catching the variant. Frost and Dr. Oliverio say it’s had a mental and physical impact for healthcare staff across the area.
“They come to work and talk about it all day, you see it all day, you’re in it all day,” says Frost. “And then you go home and people want to know about it, you still need to do all of those things you need to do at home to protect yourself.”
“So, you know our teammates are getting sick because you know Omicron is just so infectious,” says Dr. Oliverio.
Hospitals and officials are hopeful more will be vigilant as case numbers reach their peak.
“You know we’re going to get to next week, we’re going to get to next month but what can we do in order to make sure everybody sees we’re in this together,” says Frost.
“It’s really important in this surge, I mean we’re peaking in cases,” says Dr. Oliverio.