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Augusta Health Besieged By COVID Surge

Augusta County has seen an average of 89 new cases of COVID per day for the past seven days, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Hospital workers there are besieged by the spike. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

There are currently 63 patients with COVID at Augusta Health in Fishersville. Thirteen of them are in the ICU, and seven are on ventilators. Assistant Vice President Scott Crabtree said that some of the health system's physical therapists, operating room nurses, and nurses that work in outpatient clinics are now taking care of COVID patients.

Credit Augusta Health
Scott Crabtree is assistant vice president at Augusta Health in Fishersville.

Augusta Health and the Virginia Department of Health are financial supporters of WMRA.  That does not affect our coverage.

SCOTT CRABTREE: Obviously, staffing has been one of our most critical resources. With the expansion of the ICU and the high volume of COVID patients, we have had to reassign or deploy a number of licensed staff throughout the health system.

In a Facebook post from Augusta Health that has been widely shared, physical therapist Carla Hansen writes, "The nurses are so overworked and their tasks are endless. They are working extra shifts with more patients assigned to them each shift than normal."

Crabtree said local residents can help the hospital staff by getting vaccinated.

CRABTREE: Roughly 80% of our COVID inpatients have not received the vaccine. 20% have been vaccinated, and those individuals that end up in the hospitals who have been vaccinated, generally speaking their … level of care that they've required has been significantly less.

He said their current projections show this surge to last until at least the end of the month, and possibly through most of October

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.