While the number of positive COVID-19 cases increase, hospitals in the Upstate have managed to maintain appropriate capacity and continue to be on the ready in case of a surge in cases, doctors at both Prisma Health and Bon Secours St. Francis Health said.
Hospitals are prepared to prevent the spread of diseases within their walls — it’s part of their operation. The health care staff is trained to ensure patients are provided safe care at any time, pandemic or not, said Dr. Scott Sasser, Prisma Health’s incident commander. Sasser hopes individuals remember that when they need medical help. “Our health care systems manage complex health issues every day.”
“We still have to live in three worlds: the normal operations we’ve always done, the COVID-19 acute piece that’s still here and not going away any time soon, and then you have [to prepare] a little bit forward [for a potential surge],” said Dr. Marcus Blackstone, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System’s chief clinical officer.
Both hospital systems had scaled back some of their medical and business operations but have slowly reintroduced them, maintaining restrictions to prevent any spread of COVID-19.
Some individuals have shied away from visiting hospitals even when they were in need of emergency care due to concerns about the virus. Both doctors said that it is perfectly safe to visit the emergency room.
“We have a missional obligation to take care of everyone in our community, both patients with COVID-19 and those who have other illnesses and injuries,” said Sasser.
After three months treating the disease, testing and tracing the spread of the coronavirus has become the focus.
As part of that mission, hospitals are carrying on with testing and community outreach. Prisma Health has tested more than 30,000 people and has organized community testing at 20 sites as of June 5. Bon Secours St. Francis has tested patients fitting certain criteria.
“Through expanded testing efforts, we’ve been able to identify Greenville as a current hot spot in the state, where the number of daily cases has been increased for the past week,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, a South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control physician consultant and Greenville resident, said in an email on June 5. In many cases, Traxler said, the new positive cases have come from single-family homes meaning the coronavirus spread among family members.
The rate of positive COVID-19 cases in Greenville County was over 400 per 100,000 people on June 9, 2020.
About 30% of recent positive cases came from individuals who identify as Hispanic, said Traxler. She added that DHEC has “enhanced our Latino outreach efforts in Greenville” by increasing testing in communities with large Hispanic populations with bilingual staff present and conducting more outreach like interviews with Latino radio stations..
Studies have found that communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus.
A DHEC spokesperson said in a statement that its team continues to look for possible factors behind increases in any area and assesses the best approaches to decrease such upticks.
“It’s imperative now more than ever that we remind each other how important it is to adhere to the daily precautions for protecting ourselves and others from [the] spread of the virus,” the spokesperson said.
Find out more about the pandemic and how to keep yourself safe by visiting https://www.scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.