GREER, SC (FOX Carolina) - It’s a busy time for hospitals across the nation. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases continue to send more and more people to the hospital.
We stopped by Pelham Medical Center in Greer to find out what wait times are like in the emergency room and how they are handling the influx of patients.
“For several weeks, almost every single one of those beds has been filled with an admitted patient,” said Dr. Elizabeth Atkinson, an emergency medicine physician at Pelham Medical.
She told us there are 25 beds in their ER and most of them are filled with covid patients, which has the team using a creative approach to healthcare.
“We’re seeing patients in hallways, in chairs when they should be in monitored beds. We’re trying really hard to see everybody that we can,” according to Dr. Atkinson.
Which, of course, leads to more time waiting to be seen by someone in the ER.
“That’s unfortunate because for me I don’t like to have patients wait, but we are absolutely strapped to the maximum,” she said.
“We are seeing sometimes large pockets of people coming in simply seeking COVID testing,” said Dr. Surabhi Gaur, Chief Medical Officer at Bon Secours St. Francis.
In a statement to FOX Carolina, St. Francis writes that processes have been put in place to help triage patients more efficiently.
However, they wouldn’t give any specifics on those processes.
Dr. Gaur says there has been an increase in wait times for their ER but they see more traffic at the beginning the the week.
We also spoke with an Intensive Care Unit Nurse at Pelham Medical whose worked in healthcare for 11 years. John Brock said, “Traditionally, here at Pelham we had a four bed ICU, we’ve had to double into an eight beds in the ICU.”
All the patients in ICU there are in because of COVID-19.
Brock says it’s tough to see it all unfolding before his eyes. He mentioned that in the rough moments nurses are the only person a patient has to stand by their side and comfort them.
After doubling the ICU, at times that’s still not enough space but staffers pull together to make sure care is provided in such a high stress environment.
“And we have patients on the floor, four and five at a time that need to be in the ICU but we don’t have room for them,” Brock said.
Although times are tough for these frontline healthcare providers — physically and mentally, their determination to get through the pandemic outweighs the issue at hand.
“If patients would understand to try to be patient, understanding of our limitations and our challenges,” said Dr. Atkinson.
To help reduce wait time in the ER, people can access their own situation before going to the hospital.
Sometimes, urgent or immediate care facilities can provide medical attention faster than an ER.
Also, it’s suggested that you consider covid testing at an off site location: a pharmacy, mass testing location, or a lab because that can free up ER staff for more critical cases.