Triangle hospitals feeling overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases climb

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations climbs in North Carolina, hospitals in the Triangle are feeling the impact.

Duke health officials said on Friday that there are a total of 86 COVID-19 cases at their hospitals in the Triangle and one-third of those patients are in ICU.

“We have seen increases in the last few weeks,” said Katie Galbraith, president of Duke Regional Hospital.

Galbraith said during Friday morning’s Durham’s Recovery and Renewal Task Force meeting that they are preparing to hire more staff to take on the load.

“We are working on bringing in and recruiting, very aggressively recruiting, additional team members,” Galbraith said.

As for UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, they are treating 30 COVID-19 patients and one-third of those patients are in ICU.

While UNC health officials said they are managing with the health care staff they have, they said it is taking its toll.

“I’ll be honest, with our staff you can already see some of the fatigue, it’s been a long haul,” said Dr. Abhi Mehrotra, vice-chair of operations for the UNC Department of Medicine.

In Durham, health officials said the number of COVID-19 cases among health care workers is on the rise, but its not due to a shortage of PPE.

Health officials said these workers are contracting it in the community, which is why everyone needs to do their part by wearing a mask and social distancing.

Eric LaRue Ricky Clay Sr. of Liberty, North Carolina went to the emergency room at the Durham VA Medical Center last month when he wasn’t feeling well.

“The doctor came in and said we’re going to admit you because you’ve just been tested for COVID-19,” Clay said.

Clay tested positive for the virus and stayed in the hospital for three days.

He said it was the hospital staff who helped him get through it.

“I see what they go through on the battlefield trying to fight an invisible monster, which we call COVID-19,” Clay said.

Clay said his message to the community is to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and do your part to try to slow the spread of the virus.

“This is a dangerous virus and people are just taking it as a joke,” Clay said. “You’ve got to be serious.”

Duke hospital officials said not all of the COVID-19 patients at their hospitals are from Durham. They said they get a lot of referrals from other parts of the state.

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