Is there a shortage of ICU beds and ventilators at WVU Medicine?

Marshall County

Glen Dale, W.Va. (WTRF) – President Dr. David Hess isn’t mincing words about the number of COVID patients W-V-U Medicine is handling.

We’re very tight for ICU beds and critical care beds throughout the entire system.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

According to Governor Jim Justice, West Virginia has the fastest acceleration rate of cases in the nation.

While not all of them are severe, enough of them are to put a strain on the kinds of services the state’s hospitals are used to providing.

Prior to COVID, in our ER here at Reynolds, you’d be seen in 9 minutes by a physician. It’s gotten much worse than that because of the surge of patients that have COVID and need to be seen.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

Dr. Hess calls the Delta strain more aggressive early on than the initial wave of the virus.

That’s leading to younger patients who are becoming sicker more quickly.

When you combine that with traditional ER cases like strokes and heart attacks—Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble says it becomes unsustainable.

And at some point something has to give. Either you stop providing those services that the public’s used to, and you just focus on pandemic services. And that’s not where you want to be.

Howard Gamble, Administrator, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department

So why is the ICU load worse now than it was at the previous case peak in January?

Gamble says last year’s government restrictions put society into what he calls a ‘cocoon’—shielding it from COVID’s worst effects.

But with the summer came more movement, resulting in what we’re seeing now.

When you have 20 to 30 to 40 cases a day in some parts of this state, it’s just too much.

Howard Gamble, Administrator, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department

Those cases are high and still getting higher—but surprisingly, the rate of deaths hasn’t risen at the same pace.

Johns Hopkins University says the weekly death rate on January 10th in the state was 206, while as of September 5th it remains at 60.

Dr. Hess credits the better understanding of the virus health officials have learned in the last year and a half.

We’ve gotten better at monitoring patients at home, I think we’ve gotten better at treating COVID in general.

Dr. David Hess, CEO, Internal Medicine Physician, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital

WVU Reynolds Memorial Hospital is also using a promising treatment for their ICU patients.

It’s called monoclonal antibody infusion—and it keeps your immune system from overreacting to the virus.

They say if you do get COVID, reach out to your healthcare provider to see if you’re eligible for it.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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