MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Tidelands Health will be receiving some much-needed helping hands as the National Guard was sent in to help with the recent surge of COVID cases.

Tidelands Health emergency departments are experiencing unprecedented demand amid the ongoing COVID-19 surge, prompting the health system to implement a multifaceted strategy to handle the influx while advising of extended wait times for patients who come to the ER with non-emergent needs.

About a dozen members of the South Carolina National Guard will assist in the emergency departments and may also provide support for the health system’s monoclonal antibody clinic and temporary respiratory clinics. The National Guard has provided crucial support to Tidelands Health during previous COVID-19 surges.

“We again welcome the skilled and dedicated members of the National Guard to work alongside our team during this latest wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Ashley Capps, vice president of nursing and operations at Tidelands Health said. “We are extremely grateful for their partnership and willingness to help serve our community as we experience tremendous demand in our ERs and across our health system.”

In the past few weeks, Tidelands Health’s two ERs have been inundated with a surge of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms, all while continuing to care for patients with the normal array of illnesses and injuries. In addition, because both Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital are operating at more than 100 percent capacity, the emergency departments are serving as a holding area for patients who have been admitted but cannot move to an inpatient floor until a hospital room becomes available.

At one point this week, the Tidelands Waccamaw emergency department was holding 22 admitted patients, including nine critical-care patients, because there were no beds available.

Personnel, stretchers and medical equipment such as crash carts have been relocated from other areas of the hospitals to support the ERs. Tidelands Health has opened three temporary respiratory clinics to provide care for patients with non-emergency respiratory symptoms.

“As we have throughout this pandemic, our team continues to rise to the challenge and serve our patients with care and compassion,” Capps said. “But we are asking our community to help us help you. Please get vaccinated, and please wear a mask to protect your health.

“If you do need medical care for any reason, please don’t wait. In an emergency, dial 911 or come to the closest emergency department. If you don’t require emergency care, please consider seeking treatment via one of our many non-emergency options.”

Community members who need medical care but who are not experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms have several options to receive timely treatment.

The South Carolina National Guard sent News13 the following statement:

“The South Carolina National Guard has been requested to provide COVID-19 vaccination support and patient care at multiple Tidelands Health locations, expected to begin Sept. 7, 2021.
U.S. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen with the South Carolina National Guard have supported hospitals and other state partners across South Carolina by fulfilling a variety of needs since March 2020. The South Carolina National Guard remains ready to support the counties, state and local agencies, and first responders with resources in support of COVID-19 response efforts in the state.”