With the exponentially increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the community, Hamilton Medical Center (HMC) is seeing its bed occupancy rate climbing exponentially as well.
‘We’re busting at the seams,” said Brian Delashmitt, DO, chief medical officer.
As of Aug. 11, HMC had 49 patients who were COVID positive. Of that number, eight were vaccinated and 41 were unvaccinated. Unfortunately, those numbers are growing daily, indicating substantial community spread of the virus and that numbers are close to where they were at the height of the pandemic this past January.
“We need people in the community to get vaccinated,” Delashmitt said. “You’re far more likely to need hospitalization if you get COVID and you’re unvaccinated. While there are breakthrough cases with people who are vaccinated getting COVID, these cases are often people with other health issues or immunocompromised systems. Breakthrough cases often have much milder effects with faster recovery. We’re also seeing the average age of patients with COVID infections trending younger and younger. This is due in large part to older members of the community being vaccinated. In fact, in Whitfield County, 85-90 percent of people ages 65 and older are vaccinated. The highest occurrence rates of COVID infection is in ages 18-49, which is also the group with lower vaccination numbers.”
The COVID-positive rate in the community is high and is still climbing, especially with the more contagious Delta variant in the community. The vaccine works to prevent the spread of the Delta variant, and due to how contagious this new variant is, it is more important than ever to be vaccinated.
Vaccinations are available at no cost, regardless of healthcare coverage, through the North Georgia Health District (NGHD). The NGHD website states that no appointment nor identification is required for the vaccination, available at Public Health Departments.
“For people who are vaccine-hesitant, I encourage you to talk to your physician, your friends, and your family,” said Michael Hartley, MD, vascular surgeon. “There’s a lot of information on the Internet. Some of it is good information. Some of it, unfortunately, isn’t good information. Your primary care physician, in whom you have trust, is who you should reach out to for help filtering through the information that you’ve encountered.”
In addition, HMC is encouraging people to take additional precautions.
“Whether you’re vaccinated or not, please wear a mask while out in public,” Delashmitt said. “Also, avoid crowded areas, wash your hands often, and social distance. We certainly don’t want our situation to go back to where it was about a year ago, but it’s on that track. We are all in this together, and it takes all of us to stop the spread of the virus.”