MEDIC transporting more COVID patients as case counts continue to rise

In late July and early August, emergency workers began transporting an average of 15 patients a day as COVID case numbers began to rise again
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 10:17 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from MEDIC have started transporting more COVID-19 patients as the summer begins to come to a close.

Dr. Jon Studnek, the deputy director of MEDIC, said the agency was transporting an average of one COVID patient a day in mid to late June.

However, in late July and early August, emergency workers began transporting an average of 15 patients a day as COVID case numbers began to rise again.

Studnek said last Saturday his employees transported 20 COVID patients.

“I think it’s pretty clear with just what we’re seeing with ambulance transports and everything else you’re seeing with the measures that are released by the state of North Carolina that transmission in our community is definitely much higher than it was even three to four weeks ago,” said Studnek.

The MEDIC deputy director explained that he is concerned about the continued spread of the virus, but said MEDIC’s response times are still normal.

“We’re happy today with response times. If the amount of virus in the community increases, folks get sicker, we don’t want to see that decrease but that could stress our system,” said Studnek.

He said the agency currently has four employees who are COVID positive, but this past December and January they were seeing around 20 to 25 employees out of work with the virus.

Studnek credits the vaccine with keeping his employees safe during the summer surge.

“My concern is less because we have such a high rate of vaccination here at MEDIC,” Studnek said.

Studnek said MEDIC employees are now required to get the COVID-19 vaccine or explain their religious or medical exemption.

He said there are currently 329 EMTs and paramedics on staff and 78 percent of those workers are vaccinated.

WBTV asked if it was frustrating that not all employees were vaccinated.

“To me, it’s all about communicating with our employees and communicating with the public. Vaccine hesitancy, you can’t approach it by being frustrated, you have to approach it from a point of education of information and trying to help your community help your employees make good decisions,” said Studnek.

Studnek said he is advising his employees to research guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he is also encouraging them to speak with their physicians.

Studnek added that it will help keep his staff safe if more members of the public got vaccinated.

“One thing we could really use from the support of the community is being a partner and the best way you can be a partner for us is to go get vaccinated,” said Studnek.

The deputy director said there are currently no plans to adjust MEDIC’s standard operations because of the spread of the virus. He said he and his colleagues are assessing strategies to mitigate increased volume.

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