Ballad Health: Monday sets new record of 387 COVID patients in hospital system

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Officials with Ballad Health released the system’s latest COVID-19 numbers on Monday, Sept. 6, announcing another new record of hospitalized patients.

Ballad Health reported 387 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, up 13 from Sunday’s then-record amount.

“We’re projecting somewhere around 440 within the next week to 10 days and it doesn’t seem to be too far-fetched given that we’re at 387 right now,” said system CEO, Alan Levine. “I think we’re probably a few weeks away from hitting the peak and that’s what’s got us concerned- hitting north of 400. We were concerned about getting 200.”

Among those hospitalized, 90 patients are in the COVID Intensive Care Unit.

65 of those patients are relying on ventilators to breathe.

Six pediatric patients are receiving care for COVID-19 at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, according to Ballad Health.

“Unfortunately, when we talk about these numbers, these numbers each represent a person. These people have families,” Levine said. “If we continue to see the volumes we’re seeing, it’s going to have an impact on our ability to take care of everybody and we’ve got to then start prioritizing where those resources are going to go.”

One of the reasons numbers decrease is somber.

“A lot of times when beds open up, it’s because we’ve been able to help somebody and get them discharged but other times those beds open up because somebody died,” he said. “It’s sobering to think that the only way we can open up capacity is either we find a way to get somebody discharged or they pass away.”

The patients impacted this time, also much younger than before.

“We’re talking young parents, parents with little children. We’ve lost some of them and it’s terribly sad,” said Levine. “It’s taking a huge emotional toll on our nurses and our doctors who are not used to having this kind of rate of death among our patients, particularly younger ones.”

This surge comes amidst what Levine calls a “staffing crisis,” particularly among nurses.

“We’re dealing with this surge with fewer staff than we had when we had the surge last January and February and the staff is extremely fatigued,” said Levine.

The system is already working to prioritize the sickest patients.

“There are already steps that we’ve taken to try to free up staff. For instance, we’ve deferred elective surgeries, the longer wait times in the ER,” explained Levine. “Are all a function of trying to prioritize taking care of patients who are very sick.”

Ballad is also working to keep hospitalizations down by caring for them virtually through their “Safer at Home” program and treating eligible patients early on with monoclonal antibodies.

“We have hundreds of patients that are not in the hospital because of some of the other steps that we are taking to avoid hospitalization,” said Levine. “I can’t even imagine what it would look like for us right now if we weren’t doing those things.”

The COVID-19 vaccination rate within Ballad’s service area on Monday remained the same that it had since Thursday, Sept. 2 — 39.7%. That rate is still below both Tennessee and Virginia’s statewide vaccination rates.

The following is a breakdown of COVID-19 data provided by Ballad Health:

  • Total number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital: 387 (+13)
  • Total COVID-19 admissions: 45
  • Total COVID-19 discharges: 32
  • Total number of COVID-19 PUIs (patient under investigation): 19
  • COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit: 90 (+6)
  • COVID-19 patients on a ventilator: 65 (-1)
  • Pediatric patients in Niswonger Children’s Hospital: 6
  • Percent of population fully vaccinated: 39.7%

According to Monday’s scorecard, the positivity rate climbed to 21.4%. Ballad used state-reported data to reveal that there have been 43 COVID-19-related deaths in its 21-county service area in the past seven days.

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