RMH Feels The Strain From COVID Spike

Sep 20, 2021

Dr. Russ Ford of Sentara RMH in Harrisonburg.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

At a press conference Monday morning, Sentara RMH in Harrisonburg reported hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are up, and most of those patients are unvaccinated. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi has more.

There are currently 61 patients hospitalized with COVID at RMH, according to an online dashboard the health system just released. Hospitalist Dr. Russ Ford said that, in addition to a rise in hospitalizations, the Delta variant has also caused a change in who is being hospitalized.

DR. RUSS FORD: Last winter, generally we saw 65, 75, 85 year old folks very ill with the virus that needed hospital type support. Now we are seeing some of those same age groups, but we're seeing 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. … Over 90% of them are unvaccinated. The few people who are vaccinated that we are seeing sick enough to come to the hospital often have very serious underlying medical conditions.

Cassey Cook is a clinical nurse manager for one of the hospital's COVID units.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

Cassey Cook, a clinical nurse manager for one of the hospital's COVID units, noted the strain staff are under, caught between the COVID surge and a national nurse shortage.

CASSEY COOK: We are seeing the sickest and the youngest patients we have ever seen. These patients can no longer do independent tasks such as going to the bathroom or taking bites of food.

The hospital is currently at 87% of their capacity of inpatient beds. Ford said they can expand the ICU into other areas of the hospital as needed to accommodate the sickest patients.

FORD: We've had to cut back on or cancel elective procedures to be able to have enough personnel to take care of inpatient demands.