‘You do not have to be a statistic’: Cape Fear Valley Hospital reports seeing COVID-19 deaths every day

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Cape Fear Valley Health’s chief medical officer said Tuesday that hospital’s COVID-19 admissions were “significantly worse” than what it was during the pandemic’s peak over the winter.

The hospital said this is the highest number of patients dying daily and the furthest their resources have been stretched over the course of the pandemic.

Their latest data showed this of admitted patients:

  • 79 percent of patients were unvaccinated
  • 17 percent were fully vaccinated
  • 4 percent were partially vaccinated

“It is not worse because we have more patients to take care of. It’s worse because we know these individuals had a choice and if they would have made the right choice, they would not be in the hospital,” Chief Clinical Officer for Cape Fear Valley Hospital, Dr. Michael Zappa, said.

The hospital reports 150 COVID-19 patients at Cape Fear Valley Hospital and 220 COVID-19 patients across Cape Fear Valley Health System.

Zappa said patients are experiencing everything from pneumonia to respiratory failure. He said many are fighting for their lives.

“You do not have to be a statistic,” Zappa said. “You have the opportunity to protect yourself and protect your loved ones.”

Just a little more than one week ago, a tent was put up outside the Cape Fear Valley Hospital medical center to accommodate patients who are waiting for emergency care. Zappa explained patients who come in with a COVID-19 infection will spend at least twice as long in the hospital as a regular patient.

He said that is taking space way from other emergencies that require admission. The hospital isn’t having to choose who gets care or not, but people are having to wait longer to get care, he said.

If Cape Fear Valley Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) fills up, there would be nowhere to divert patients because other hospitals are filling up too.

That means patients could see permanent damage from their heart attack or stroke if they cannot receive care in a typical time frame.

“We’re going to hit the point where not only will we be stretched to care of COVID-19 patients, (but) the resources are going to be stretched to care for you if you have heart attack, you’ve been in a car accident, or you have a stroke,” Zappa said.

Additionally, some elective procedures are being rescheduled or cancelled because of lack of space.

The delta variant is being blamed for much of this increase.

The variant is much more transmissible and unforgiving to younger populations.

Zappa said the hospital has counted at least four deaths per day in the last week. He said their ages range from 18 to over 65 and children are being admitted more often recently.

Still, the number one thing public health officials are encouraging are COVID-19 vaccines.

“If you don’t do your part to help us get this pandemic under control, when you have your medical emergency we might not be able to take care of you,” Zappa said.

The hospital reported about 70-percent of patients are initially making it out of the hospital. The majority are being referred to monoclonal antibody treatment centers. Additionally, some patients are big sent home with a pulse oximeter to monitor themselves.

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