Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at East Georgia Regional Medical Center fell by 10 from Thursday to Friday and are down 42% since hitting a high of 73 on Aug. 26.
Ted Wynn, director of the Bulloch Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency, said 42 COVID patients were at the hospital on Friday – down from 52 on Thursday. It also is the first time in a month the Medical Center staff was treating fewer than 50 COVID patients at one time.
Last week, hospital CEO Stephen Pennington said “We are seeing the number of cases start to decline in the hospital,” and that trend continued this week. In fact, hospitalizations across Georgia have declined every day since Sept. 7, though more than 5,000 people remain hospitalized in the state.
“It certainly is a positive sign for us in Bulloch County to see people discharged from the hospital,” Wynn said. “We hope that we are seeing a real and consistent downward trend. However, we still have too high a number of patients having to be on ventilators.”
Wynn said 22 patients were on ventilators Friday after hitting a pandemic high of 24 on Monday.
The high volume of COVID patients has put a huge strain on hospital staffs around Georgia and the nation.
“Our staff is very stressed, mostly because they care so deeply for their patients and families,” Pennington said. “Please keep our patients and employees in your thoughts and prayers.”
Aside from the increased workload, the severity of the illnesses has weighed on hospital staff, said Dr. Erine Raybon-Rojas, a pulmonary care intensivist at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.
Prior to COVID, she said, about 85 percent of patients made it out of the ICU and recovered. “I’ve seen more people die than at any point in my career.’’
The emotional burden has been felt across the staff.
“It’s not uncommon to see people break down in tears. I know some colleagues have been suicidal,’’ said Raybon-Rojas.
Local, state cases
At the same time hospitalizations are declining, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed Friday another Bulloch County resident died due to COVID and another resident probably died due to the virus.
Since Aug. 10, there have been 17 confirmed and 14 probable deaths – 31 total – of Bulloch citizens reported by the Department of Health. The Department of Health defines a probable death as a patient who receives a positive Antigen/rapid test for COVID-19, developed symptoms and then died.
Similarly, the state has seen an increase in deaths with 431 confirmed and 266 probable deaths reported in the past three days.
In Bulloch County, the Department of Health said there were 16 new confirmed cases on Thursday and 19 on Friday. In Georgia, there were 4,103 new cases on Thursday and 4,030 on Friday.
The U.S. is averaging 1,969 COVID-19 deaths and 150,000 new cases per day. The country is still well below the peaks reached in January, when it was averaging about 3,400 deaths and a quarter-million cases per day.
Georgia Health News contributed to this report.