Piedmont Newnan Hospital seeing dramatic increases in Fourth Surge of COVID-19

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By MIKE ROBERTSON, CEO, Piedmont Newnan Hospital

There is no doubt we are in the fourth surge of the pandemic and, across the state and here at Piedmont Newnan, the number of COVID-19 positive patients have increased rapidly.

It is unknown when the peak of this fourth wave will occur, nor is it known how long it will last. However, one thing we do know is that if we continue on this same path we will reach numbers higher than the previous surges – resulting in more sickness and death in our community.

We need everyone to continue doing everything they can to protect themselves, their friends, and their family.

Hospitalizations continue to rise across the country, across Georgia and within Piedmont hospitals. Georgia’s positivity rate has topped 10% – a threshold that in the past has led to large numbers of hospitalizations of our patients.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Piedmont Healthcare system. When we experience these high volumes, it puts a strain on our staff and resources, physically and emotionally.

The ICU and Emergency Department continue to remain full and at bed capacity, creating a large number of patient holds in the ED. We have plans in place to respond to increased numbers from an operations standpoint and ensure we are prepared to face the challenges this pandemic presents, which includes looking at our number of surgical procedures daily based on medical urgency.

Please remain vigilant, encourage others to do so as well, and, if you haven’t already done so, please get vaccinated. Vaccinations, our primary tool for combating the virus, continue to lag behind the levels that leading experts say we need to achieve in order to contain the virus and prevent widespread transmission in our communities.

This virus has mutated a lot and there is an increased chance for more virulent strains of COVID-19 to follow the longer our community remains under-vaccinated and the pandemic continues. And although we hear of rare cases of vaccinated individuals getting COVID-19, they are usually asymptomatic and do not require hospitalization, unlike those who are unvaccinated. Over 95% of all of the patients we are seeing in the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

If you have been vaccinated, this is also the time to talk to your family, friends and neighbors who might be on the fence about getting their shot. You can find all the information you need on the COVID-19 vaccines, including answers to frequently asked questions, at https://www.piedmont.org/covid-19/vaccine-faq.

Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone to continue to practice the 3 W’s; wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated their guidance to return to masking for everyone when indoors – regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC says that the delta variant has reached a prevalence of nearly 83 percent in the United States and, as you may know, the delta variant is two to three times more contagious than previous strains of COVID.

It is also safer to attend activities outdoors when possible and to avoid crowds indoors.

Currently, Piedmont Newnan is allowing each patient who is admitted to have two care partners visit per day during regular visiting hours. Those visiting the Emergency Room and patients having outpatient procedures are allowed one care partner, with the exception of minors receiving care who may have both parents/legal guardians present. That is subject to change if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the hospital and in the community.

As a reminder, all visitors, like all staff members, physicians, and volunteers, must wear a mask at all times in the hospital, regardless of vaccination status.

Coweta County has demonstrated a fantastic level of support for our staff during the pandemic. Your prayers and acts of kindness are appreciated more than you’ll ever know. What we need more than anything right now is for everyone to take COVID-19 seriously, get vaccinated, and help us end this surge of the pandemic.

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