WHEELING, W.VA. – Wheeling Hospital reports over 70 employees are off the job with COVID or quarantined due to potential exposure.
“We anticipated this fall/winter hike in patient cases, and began our Incident Command surge planning in March,” CEO Douglass Harrison said. “We’re following that plan and have the resources for our COVID patients, but the situation is very fluid and being monitored hourly.”
The hospital is coping with the worker shortage by moving staff to different areas of the hospital to ensure coverage. In addition, new staffers are being hired and going through orientation to help strengthen the workforce.
While inpatient elective surgeries are being limited, doctors’ offices remain open. However, hospital officials are asking patients to reconsider routine appointments or screenings.
“Ask yourself: do I really need to be at the hospital now, or can I delay my appointments for a few weeks?” hospital CEO Douglass Harrison said. “We have the downtown Urgent Care that can handle many non-life threatening issues. And don’t forget our walk-in clinics in Woodsdale and Martins Ferry, which can handle most minor injuries and illnesses. These people are standing by to help you.”
Dr. Clark Milton, the hospital’s director of Corporate Health, said, “As we witness a significant increase in positive COVID cases in our community, these pandemic numbers have impacted not only our immediate hospital staff members, but also their families. This community exposure is responsible for most – greater than 90% — of our hospital employees’ infections.”
Surgical schedules are continually reviewed, and hospital and nursing administration meet daily to discuss staffing issues and contingencies. All in-person staff and department meetings have been halted, and are now conducted via Zoom or WebEx. The entire staff and administration are following strict protocols regarding masks, social distancing and screenings.
Harrison said, “We are managing, but it is stressful. To continue to provide the high quality care our patients have come to expect is our ultimate goal. The next several weeks will certainly be a trying time for all health care entities.”
He asked that the community protect itself, as well as health care workers, by being very cautious during the entire holiday season. Health officials are urging the public to limit gatherings to people within the household or with immediate family; wear masks; wash hands; and practice social distancing of at least 6 feet apart.
“If the community can do its part in helping stop the spread, that makes Wheeling Hospital a much safer place,” Harrison said.
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