SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - According to the Georgia Emergency Management’s COVID-19 report, the state had just 13 percent capacity for critical care beds Thursday. Local hospital leaders say these numbers can be deceiving because they don’t account for their surge capacity.
St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System’s says while they are licensed for 715 beds and about 400 are in use right now they can add beyond that number.
President and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler, Paul Hinchey said the hospital is like a suitcase, capable of holding a certain amount, but there’s also a built in zipper that extends that space allowing additional room if needed.
“Normal business we’ll run about 85 critical care beds, now we’re going to be up in the middle of August to 145,” explained Hinchey.
St Joseph’s/Candler Health System has spent months preparing to make sure they are ready a worst case scenario.
Right now, they have a total of 93 COVID positive patients with 27 in the ICU and 17 of them on ventilators. The health system has 80 ventilators still available if needed, in addition to a stockpile of PPE. They also have built out space within their hospitals for patient beds and even hired staff to help as they handle not only this infectious disease, but also their typical medical-surgical cases.
“We’re running two full-service hospitals and we’re firing on all cylinders,” Hinchey said. “In order to do that we had to go out and get additional staffing.”
They have hired 44 contract nurses to help in two new COVID units. Half of them have arrived while the other half will get here in Mid-August. In addition to staff, the health system has ordered new equipment to assist in testing. They have spent approximately $6 million on the pandemic to be best prepared.
“We basically think we’ve been deployed,” detailed Hinchey. “That’s the way were doing it... So, we’re all hunkering down and making long-term decisions because none of us believe we’re going to be out of the woods any time soon.”
Hinchey said as they deal with COVID in their hospitals, they have noticed some people delay needed care, but he says there is no need to risk your health. They are prepared and ready to safely help you.