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Memorial Health Doctor on COVID cases: “We’re in a crisis”

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:16 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Before joining Memorial Health System, Chief Medical Officer Dan Breece spent 14 years in the U.S. Navy. But he says he’s rarely seen-and he uses the word “crisis”-something like the situation the hospital system now faces, with the recent rise in COVID-19 patients.

“If the amount of patients continues to increase,” Breece told us Wednesday, “that will absolutely restrict some of the care we’ll be able to provide in a timely fashion.”

Breece, who took part in Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s news conference at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport September 17, said last week was the worst the hospital system had seen during the pandemic. He says this week is shaping up to the same.

He says, for the time being, the most urgent of non-COVID patients and surgeries are being taken care of.

“The trick is prioritizing which ones need to go now, or could wait a day or two, and which ones could possibly be put off for 2-3 weeks, 4 weeks or something like that,” he explains. “They all need to be done.”

Breece says, of the COVID-positive patients now in the hospital, 90% are unvaccinated, with 80% of the patient deaths unvaccinated. In the latter case, of the other 20%, nearly all had some type of medical problems.

One thing that’s also different: Breece says respiratory issues among patients are coming far sooner this year.

“Respiratory season usually runs from October 1 through the end of March, and you’ll usually see two waves of flu, and RSV in children, We started seeing RSV in children and adults that required hospitalization in early August.”

And while COVID patients a year ago were mostly 65 years of age and older, this year, they’re generally in their 40′s, 50′s and early 60′s.

As of Wednesday, there are 70 COVID-positive patients in the Memorial Health System, with 16 in critical care, and 20 awaiting hospital beds.

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