Local hospital officials and employees are desperate for some relief as COVID-19 cases keep racking up — and beds continue to fill up at an unprecedented rate.

Southern Ohio Medical Center announced Saturday that its ICU was at capacity.

“The level of resources we have been forced to dedicate to this single diagnosis is unsustainable,” stated the hospital in a release. “Like many hospitals, including others in our region, we are being stretched to the breaking point.”

SOMC has a total of 248 — as of Saturday, more than 20% were occupied by COVID patients, a hospital high.

As King’s Daughters Medical Center echoed, the more beds occupied by COVID patients means fewer beds available for emergency care.

According to SOMC, more than 90% of its COVID patients are unvaccinated.

Vaccines are free and do not require an appointment at SOMC’s Community Pharmacies in Portsmouth, Wheelersburg and West Union. 

KDMC announced it was at capacity late last week.

On Friday, CEO Kristie Whitlatch said the following: “I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This past week has been brutal. Our team, our medical staff, our facility is stretched to capacity. They are exhausted but determined to push through.”

Of 82 COVID patients as of Sept. 9, 87% (71) had not been vaccinated. KDMC had zero COVID ICU beds open, and 13 COVID patients were on ventilators.

Down South, the Floyd County Health Department reported 98 new cases this past week, for a total of 5,883 cases, 603 of them active cases.

Thirty-nine of those cases are hospitalized; 19 were fully vaccinated and two were partially vaccinated. Almost 40 of the cases are among those 18 and younger.

Prestonsburg is one of the cities that will receive help from the Kentucky National Guard, which is activating 310 additional members in logistical roles to 21 hospitals across the state.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he believes it is the largest deployment of the guard in a “crisis health care situation” in the state's history.

The guard members will help with non-medical logistical and administrative tasks.

Brig. Gen. Bryan Howay, director of the joint staff for the Kentucky National Guard, said a total of 400 soldiers and airmen have been deployed to 25 hospitals, including Paducah, Louisville, Elizabethtown, Corbin, Lexington and Bowling Green.

Appalachian Regional Hospitals, with a location in Presonsburg as well as facilities throughout Kentucky and West Virginia, reported 213 COVID-19-positive patients in 13 hospitals this week.

Of those 213, 39 are in the ICU and 42 are on ventilators. Only 16 of the 39 were vaccinated.

ARH has adopted a visitation policy that requires visitors to arrive wearing a properly fitting mask, which must remain on at all times; visitors will be screened for COVID-19 and anyone showing symptoms of the virus will not be admitted; visitors must wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or apply sanitizer when entering and leaving patient rooms; and visitors must stay in the patient's room at all times and must leave the facility immediately upon leaving the patient's room.

The Lawrence County Health Department reports the county in the red, with a 68.1 current incidence rate; Kentucky's current incidence rate is 79.26. The department recommends masking in government officers, public indoor events and crowded outdoor events. It also encourages more vaccinations and physical distancing.

In response, Three Rivers Medical Center in Louisa is restricting visitation and requiring screenings for visitors as well as offering the vaccinate to all those unvaccinated. Anyone attempting to visit without a mask will have one provided.

Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center, both members of Mountain Health Network, have reached an all-time high in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the hospital reported on Friday.

The hospitals reported 115 patients hospitalized last week, surpassing the previous peak of 109 in December 2020.

As of Friday, 105 were hospitalized with COVID. Of those, 86% were unvaccinated and 31 patients were in Intensive Care Units, with 97% unvaccinated. Nineteen patients required mechanical ventilation; 95% of those were unvaccinated. Two of those on ventilation were children.

“The numbers in our hospitals show that the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” Larry Dial, MD, chief clinical officer for Mountain Health Network, said. “We know that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to end this pandemic and so we continue to urge everyone 12 and older to get the vaccine.” Mountain Health Network employees are required to be vaccinated.

West Virginia hospitals reached a new record high in the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs, as well as in the number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation. Hospitals across the state also are reaching new record high in COVID-related hospitalizations. A new report by the health news website, statnews.com, shows West Virginia currently has the highest rate of acceleration of new COVID-19 cases in the country, more than 60% higher than the state with the second-highest rate of acceleration, South Dakota. Ohio ranks fourth, while Kentucky comes in at No. 22.

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