Hospitals work to improve capacity as COVID-19 cases rise

The moves come as cases rise following the Thanksgiving holiday

ROANOKE, Va – This week, the United States has broken an all-time record of patients hospitalized for COVID-19.

While health systems here in our region have the capacity to treat those patients, an expected increase in cases could change that.

Including Centra Lynchburg General Hospital, which had to dedicate another floor for a record number of COVID-19 patients.

“We actually peaked just a few days ago over the weekend with a number of 56 COVID positive patients that number had been slowed some for us in the hospital but a peak of 56 is quite high and broke all of our records by a good amount,” Centra Health’s Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Christopher Lewis said.

Despite the rise, health care workers want people to go to the hospital if they are in need of medical attention.

“Our COVID-19 patients are just a small portion of the patients that we are treating, please do not be scared to come to the hospital,” Jennifer Terry with SOVAH Health said.

But in far southwest Virginia, it’s a different story.

Ballad Health, near the Tennessee border, has halted elective surgeries amid growing concerns of capacity.

“The reality is, there’s not enough capacity for what we anticipate to be the need. And so we needed to get some additional capacity for storage of bodies,” Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine said.

The health system also had to order an additional morgue truck.

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