With COVID-19 cases surging, Tidelands Health opening temporary respiratory clinics, rescheduling surgeries, supplementing frontline staff
On June 30, there were no COVID-19-positive patients hospitalized at Tidelands Health. On Thursday, just over six weeks later, that number had ballooned to 43 – including 12 patients in critical care and nine on a ventilator. And, after one COVID-19 inpatient death in the months of June and July combined, the health system has recorded seven COVID-19 inpatient deaths since Aug. 1.
Amid a surge of virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths likely fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, the health system is once again implementing emergency mitigation strategies to relieve pressure on the community’s strained health care resources.
- On Monday, Aug. 16, Tidelands Health will open temporary respiratory clinics in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown to treat patients with COVID-19-like symptoms – a move to help manage ballooning emergency department volumes. Patients 12 and older who are experiencing respiratory symptoms but who don’t require emergency care should call their Tidelands Health Family Medicine office or 1-866-TIDELANDS to schedule a respiratory clinic appointment.
- With both Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital over 100 percent capacity, the health system is postponing and rescheduling some surgeries that are not time-sensitive but require a hospital admission. Patients whose surgeries need to be rescheduled will be contacted by their physician’s office. Time-sensitive surgeries and outpatient procedures are proceeding normally.
- Numerous steps are being taken to supplement clinical staffing. Nurses who work in non-clinical roles are being temporarily reassigned to frontline care roles, and the health system is offering incentive pay for team members who work additional shifts. Clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients also receive supplemental pay. Efforts to secure additional travel nursing staff are underway.
- The health system is expanding its monoclonal antibody infusion clinic to accommodate additional patients. To date, Tidelands Health has administered more than 600 doses of the promising treatment, which has been shown to reduce a COVID-19 patient’s risk of hospitalization.
“Our region is back in a place we’d hoped to never see again,” said Gayle Resetar, chief operating officer. “Our friends and neighbors are getting sick at an alarming rate, and our health care professionals are shouldering the burden.
“The strategies we’re implementing will reduce pressure on our health care resources so that we can continue to deliver the high-quality care our patients deserve. We ask for our community’s patience and understanding through this surge, as wait times in our emergency departments and physician offices continue to be longer than normal due to heavy demand.”
Tidelands Health is also expanding efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through vaccination. The health system, which has administered nearly 80,000 vaccine doses to date, continues to offer walk-in vaccination at three regional vaccination sites in Georgetown, Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach:
- Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, Harris Medical Pavilion entrance, 606 Black River Road, Georgetown, every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 9 a.m-4 p.m.
- Waccamaw Medical Park West, 4040 Highway 17, Suite 204, Murrells Inlet, Monday-Thursday, 9a.m.-4 p.m.
- Tidelands Health Medical Park at The Market Common, 2200 Crow Lane, Myrtle Beach, Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Patients may also receive the vaccine during a regularly scheduled Tidelands Health Family Medicine appointment.
In addition, the Tidelands Health community health resources team offers mobile vaccination clinics at businesses, churches and organizations in Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties. To request a no-cost, on-site clinic, an organization should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 843-520-8586.
The health system is also closely monitoring FDA authorization of booster shots for certain immunocompromised individuals and will expand vaccination efforts as needed to accommodate additional demand.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and readily available to everyone 12 and older,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs. “Please help us help you. Please get vaccinated.”
In recent weeks, Tidelands Health has seen a significant increase in vaccination numbers, and Dr. Harmon said he is hopeful that momentum will continue.
“Every day, more and more people are choosing vaccination, because we know vaccination works,” he said. “This vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community we all call home.”