COVID-19 converts WakeMed lobby into emergency room


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The COVID-19 surge is becoming more apparent in North Carolina hospitals.

At WakeMed’s Raleigh campus, the emergency room has expanded into the lobby. The hospital system posted on its social media sites that Chaplain Jesse O’Neal blessed the area before they began admitting patients to the area.

The hospital said in its post, “Our emergency services team wanted to fill the space with the healing energy needed to continuing serving our patients during this trying time.”

The space has 12 beds to use if all other emergency department spaces are at capacity. It brings the Raleigh campus’ total to 134 spaces between adult and children’s emergency departments.

The move comes as hospitals across the state reach capacity as a result of increasing COVID-19 cases.

According to Dr. David Kirk at WakeMed, the hospital system has more COVID-19 patients in the hospital, in intensive care, and on ventilators than at any point in the entire pandemic.

“The other day, we lost three patients within a matter of an hour,” he said. “Each time a patient dies, we mourn, but when three patients die within an hour, the teams have a difficult time processing that much trauma all at once.”

Last week, doctors with Duke Raleigh, UNC REX, and WakeMed all came together to discuss capacity issues as COVID-19 cases surge and more non-COVID patients return.

The doctors said hospitals in the Triangle were already seeing more patients return with long-term health issues who did not seek out treatment during the pandemic.

But the surge in delta variant cases has compounded space constraints and stressed hospitals with ongoing staffing shortages.

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