Southwest Virginia hospitals, first responders call on the community to slow spread of COVID

Agencies across the region are coming to together to curb the uptick in cases and crowded hospitals

ROANOKE, Va. – As COVID-19 cases rise across Southwest Virginia, local Fire-EMS agencies and hospitals are asking for help from the community to stop the spread.

Multiple agencies across the region are urging people to use the “effective, free and widely available tools to fight this virus.”

Officials are asking those who have non-life-threatening injuries to seek the appropriate level of care. If you do not have a serious injury or illness or just need to get a COVID-19 test, hospitals ask that you consider seeking care from your primary care physician, an urgent care location, or a retail pharmacy for testing.

Hospitals share their concerns as emergency crews see a significant increase of patients, causing staff to use something called a “hospital diversion.” This means that local EMS teams will take incoming patients to the nearest emergency room that is not experiencing an influx in patients, giving the first emergency department time to decompress. While emergency rooms are open for those who need them, officials say high patient volumes can delay care, so it’s important to seek the appropriate level of care.

“It’s critical that we reserve our hospital emergency rooms and rescue squads for medical emergencies. Please do your part to stay healthy and out of the hospital,” officials wrote in a statement.

They are also urging those who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated against the virus as it’s the “best way to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and out of the hospital during the pandemic.” Officials say the more than 85% of those currently hospitalized for COVID in our region are unvaccinated.

Lastly, they are continuing to ask people to wear a mask and social distance from others as well as follow the CDC’s recommendations to stop the spread of the virus regardless of vaccination status.

“We are here, ready and passionate about caring for you. It’s our calling and privilege to care for community members during their worst moments. The increase in COVID-19 cases and the impact that the virus has had on our region weighs on all of us,” officials said.

Agencies and hospitals involved in this community push are Alleghany County Department of Public Safety, Botetourt County Department of Fire & EMS, Carilion Clinic, Centra Health, City of Roanoke Fire-EMS, City of Salem Fire-EMS, Craig County EMS, Franklin County Department of Public Safety, Henry County Department of Public Safety, LewisGale Regional Health System, Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance (NSPA), Patrick County Fire & EMS, Pittsylvania County Public Safety Department, Roanoke County Fire & Rescue, Sovah Health, Virginia Department of Health and Western Virginia EMS Council.

To find a testing site near you, click here or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682).

About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.