Johnston Health CEO Tom Williams says ICU beds at hospitals in Smithfield and Clayton are at capacity due to a surge in COVID-19 patients. Since March, the two hospitals combined had been averaging 20 to 25 inpatients receiving treatment for COVID. After Thanksgiving a surge of cases was reported. “We went from 20 to 25 patients to 60 patients throughout the month of December,” Mr. Williams said.
Johnston Health has 16 ICU beds at the Smithfield hospital and four at the Clayton hospital. They are now at capacity. Average admissions have increased from 5 to 7 per day from March through November to 10 to 12 admissions per day in December. “This morning we had 60 patients,” Williams said.
“It is a daily job for our care teams to try and manage who can be discharged and go home. We have had times we held patients in the emergency department until there was a bed,” Williams said. “It’s a daily grind to be sure we have beds available for folks that come in but we are committed to taking care of our community.”
No patients will be turned away at the hospitals but the demand has prompted some changes.
Elective Surgeries Suspended
Johnston Health has temporarily suspended all elective surgeries at both hospital campuses. Urgent and emergency surgeries are still being performed. By suspending elective surgeries it will allow the hospitals to use surgical beds for the medical needs of patients and focus the limited hospital staff on the surge of COVID patients.
Williams says the community has been very supportive of the hospital and staff since the pandemic began. Meals have been prepared to workers, cards and thank you notes have been received on a daily basis. “I can’t thank the community enough for their support. I get calls daily from our board and county commissioners. I got a text last night from County Manager Rick Hester asking if there was anything he can do.”
“The big thing we can do right now is to wear your mask, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings. We saw the surge right after Thanksgiving. Because of the surge at Thanksgiving I am fearful of what January will hold because of gatherings at Christmas and New Years Eve. Take precautions that have been advised and take it seriously. If you have symptoms go get tested. That will help limit the spread.”
Williams also urged everyone to please take the COVID-19 vaccine when it become available to you.
For the latest COVID information in Johnston County including testing locations click here.