Record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations strains rural hospitals

Maury Regional Medical Center
Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 19, 2020

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WTVF) — A record number of patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 in Tennessee, and it’s putting a strain on rural hospitals.

As for hospitalizations, the state hit a new record with 1,188 patients battling COVID-19 at a hospital according to the Tennessee Department of Health data that was released on Monday.

The Metropolitan Public Health Department in Nashville is reporting that 17% of hospital beds are available at area hospitals, and 90% of ICU beds are taken. At Maury Regional Medical Center, they hit their all-time record on Monday. They’re treating between 50 and 53 patients for COVID-19 according to Dr. Martin Chaney, the Chief Medical Officer. "I think in the past one or two months we’ve seen a shift in the demographics, away from the big population centers, more toward rural communities," Chaney said.

He said they have around 14 patients in the ICU, and their capacity is currently 26.

"About two-thirds of our patients don’t need ICU level of care." For hospitals with little resources, it puts a strain on them either way. "We are looking at expanding medical beds within our hospital, and of course we will always transfer patients if another hospital has the capacity to care for them," Dr. Chaney said.

Dr. Chaney said at first younger people were sick, but now they’re treating older more vulnerable patients. "And the CDC actually said this last week, is that the place that the virus seems to be spreading the most are in those small household gatherings. People let their guard down in those situations, they may have family or friends over and people may be unmasked, they’re clustered together indoors as the weather gets colder," Dr. Chaney said.

They serve around six rural counties, and he hopes people will take precautions seriously as hospitalizations soar.

"So masking, continuing to socially distance. If you have symptoms, if you’ve been exposed to COVID, please stay away from vulnerable people," Chaney said.

For perspective, the Vanderbilt University Medical center network has 55 total COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of 10/19. Sumner Regional Medical Center currently has 16 COVID-19 patients according to a spokesperson.

Read More: Tennessee sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations as pandemic grows