Hardin Medical Center CEO discusses sharp increase of COVID patients
SAVANNAH, Tenn. — Small hospitals in rural Tennessee are facing heavy burdens keeping up with the influx of COVID-19 patients. Hardin Medical Center in Savannah is now taking transfers from hours away.
“There are people who come in who are very functional in the community. They may be 65 or 70-years-old. They’re independent. But then they get COVID,” said CEO Nick Lewis.
So far, Hardin County has seen 42 people die from COVID-19.
“It’s an unnecessary mortality,” Lewis said. “It’s a premature death that shouldn’t happen. Shouldn’t happen.”
Lewis says well over half of their patients are COVID-positive.
“Rural hospitals… our level of care is actually lower than what you’re going to find in an urban area, but the acuity of the patients is actually elevated above what we would normally take care of,” Lewis said. “And that’s just because all of the major centers are backed up.”
Because of the strain on larger healthcare systems, more and more patients are starting to come to Hardin Medical Center.
“We just happen to be a place that has a little bit of capacity, and that goes day by day,” Lewis said. “This is not something that’s open for a week. It’s open for hours and then it closes up.”
So far, a little over 4% of the population in Hardin County has gotten the first dose of the vaccine. Lewis says that number needs to go up, especially for the older population.
“It’s really getting there where you’ll see hospitalizations drop. You keep dropping that age and dropping that age because once you get above 50, you start to see more hospitalizations,” Lewis said.
Until then, he and his staff will continue to work overtime to care for these sick patients.
“It’s not an easy job. It’s a difficult job,” Lewis said. “Then, when you lose patients on top of that, it’s hard.”
Lewis also mentioned monoclonial antibodies. If you are sick with COVID, but are not sick enough to go to the hospital, healthcare providers are urging you to talk to your primary care doctor about them. Lewis says they can bring hospitalizations down dramatically, especially for older patients.