With COVID-19 hospitalizations increasing, Tidelands Health urges immediate action to slow virus’ spread

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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on June 23, 2020

With COVID-19 hospitalizations increasing, Tidelands Health urges immediate action to slow virus’ spread

Over the past five days, Tidelands Health has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and the region’s largest health care provider is urging local residents and visitors to take precautions now to slow the spread of the virus.

As of Tuesday morning, there are 20 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 hospitalized at Tidelands Health facilities in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown. Another 14 inpatients are classified as “persons under investigation” while awaiting test results.

In contrast, there were just three COVID-19-positive patients hospitalized at the health system Thursday. The number jumped to nine Friday and has been increasing since.

Dr. Gerald Harmon at a COVID-19 community testing clinic.“In recent days, our region has seen a sharp increase in both the number of people testing positive for COVID-19, as well as in the overall percentage of positive tests,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs. “Now, we’re seeing hospitalizations increase, as well.

“I cannot say strongly enough how important it is that everyone take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our community. Lives are at stake. We need our residents and visitors to wear a mask when around others, to practice good hand hygiene and to observe social distancing. These simple steps will save lives on the Grand Strand – maybe even your life or the life of someone you love.”

Because of increased community spread of the virus, Tidelands Health is once again suspending visitation within its facilities effective Wednesday, June 24, at 7 a.m. Exceptions will be made for end-of-life, labor-and-delivery and pediatric patients.

All Tidelands Health care locations continue to follow “Safe in Our Care” protocols. These enhanced measures, which include universal masking, temperature checks, contactless check-in, telehealth visits and more, were implemented in May to protect and reassure patients as they seek needed medical care.

“Early in this pandemic, there were people who delayed care because they were afraid to go to a doctor’s office or a hospital,” Dr. Harmon said. “As a result, we saw instances where chronic health conditions worsened and treatable conditions became life-threatening.

“Even as COVID-19 cases spike locally, it’s important that patients continue to seek care when they need it. Don’t risk your health and your life by putting off medical care. You can rest assured you’re ‘Safe in Our Care.’”

Testing at Myrtle Beach Pelicans Stadium May 30Tidelands Health is also continuing to offer large-scale COVID-19 testing in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Since late May, the health system has conducted approximately 6,500 free COVID-19 tests across the region during six free community testing events.

The next free testing event, which will be the region’s largest to date, is set for Friday, June 26, on the campus of Coastal Carolina University. Testing will begin at 10 a.m. and will continue while supplies – enough for 2,500 individuals – last.

Pre-screening is not required. Participants simply drive up to be tested and remain in their vehicles throughout the process.

Increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases statewide and locally, combined with Horry County’s designation as a COVID-19 hot spot, have created enormous demand for testing in the area. Community testing helps health leaders better understand the impact COVID-19 is having on the community and provides a convenient way for individuals to know whether they have the virus.

Individuals may have COVID-19 but not show any symptoms, which makes testing even more important to help limit the spread of the virus to others. Tidelands Health is working with DHEC to schedule additional free testing clinics in July, and details will be announced soon.

The health system also continues to offer clinical assessment and testing for symptomatic patients at various Tidelands Health Family Medicine locations. To schedule an appointment, call 1-866-TIDELANDS. In an emergency, call 911.

As the region’s leader in COVID-19 testing, Tidelands Health has conducted nearly 9,000 COVID-19 tests at free clinics and at the health system’s hospitals and physician offices since the pandemic began.

Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and can recover at home without medical care. Call 911 immediately if you develop emergency symptoms, including trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake or bluish lips or face.

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Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners are working side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.