NC health officials concerned by Charlotte-area hospitalization trends

Rise in cases causing hospital capacity concerns

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina reported on Thursday its highest amount of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

There are currently 1,034 patients who are in the hospital because of the virus.

State health leaders continue to be concerned about that trend.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, mentioned the Charlotte area as a hotspot for hospitalizations.

“We are particularly concerned about the Charlotte area and their hospital capacity,” Cohen said. “We are in touch with them all of the time but we had a call with all of the hospitals in the Charlotte area.”

In the Charlotte area, with major hospital systems Novant and Atrium, hospitalizations continue to rise, and capacity is starting to become an issue.

“They are doing a great job of handling the higher number of cases they are seeing and are really being thoughtful about planning for more,” Cohen said.

Health leaders are urging North Carolina residents, and those in the Charlotte area, to abide by the state mandate on wearing face masks, along with following the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where we are nearing our ICU capacity,” Cohen said. “We want to avoid a situation where hospitals are forced to postpone procedures or surgeries or other essential non-COVID care.”

As of Wednesday, Mecklenburg County has reported 13,2885 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 163 virus-related deaths.

Statewide, the state has nearly 80,000 cases, which includes the 2,000+ new cases reported on Thursday. There have also been 1,461 coronavirus-related deaths.

In the Charlotte area, health officials say there is still hospital capacity as the spread of the virus continues.

However, if hospitalizations continue to rise at this rate, health officials are concerned that hospitals will quickly near capacity, especially in the Charlotte area.

“It is good that we still have hospital and ICU capacity, but as Dr. Cohen said, we watch this closely and are especially paying attention to hospitals in the Charlotte area,” NC Gov. Roy Cooper said. “Just take a look at some of the other states where a swift uptick in cases quickly caused hospitals to fill up. We don’t want that to happen here.”

A spokesperson for Novant Health told WBTV that over the past couple of weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations there have increased.

The numbers have held steady because while an increase number of patients have arrived, patients are being discharged at the same time.

According to Novant Health, the hospital system is in a better place because it has been able to increase bed capacity, conserved PPE and make other investments to improve clinical management.

“That said, we continue to have a steady stream of COVID-19 patients being admitted,” A Novant Health spokesperson said. “Patients are skewing younger in age. While their length of stay may be shorter than it was a couple of months ago, we continue to care for more COVID-19 patients now than we did then. At the same time, more patients are seeking care for other emergent and non-emergent needs as we’ve resumed postponed services so we’re managing care for more patients, overall.”

Novant Health sent WBTV this statement:

“When the coronavirus first really started to hit our communities in mid-March, we made the careful decision to limit some services. During this time, which is also when a stay-at-home order was in place, we were able to greatly increase our capacity, by about 60%, and reinforce our supply chain.

“For about two months (since early May) we’ve been balancing our COVID-19 response while resuming those postponed services and continue to fine-tune our ability to toggle between our COVID-19 cases and tier 4 recovery patients.

“We don’t see a scenario during a second wave, or surge, where we’d again have a need to put a pause on non-essential surgeries or appointments in large part because of our diligent preparedness planning over that time period. We continue to work on team member resiliency and prepare for the redeployment of our care teams should we need that additional workflow and support.”

Novant Health currently has capacity to care for additional COVID-19 patients at our hospitals.

WBTV has reached out to Atrium Health but has not heard back.

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