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Covid-19 rates continue to rise, NHRMC is preparing for post-holiday surge

Ben Schachtman
The hospital posts their daily average hospitalization rates every Friday: https://www.nhrmc.org/coronavirus

New Hanover Regional Medical Center is getting closer to limiting less urgent procedures. In part, the decision depends on whether or not the hospital hits an average of 50 Covid-19 patients.The current number is about 47 people hospitalized with the virus, that’s according to Dr. West Paul, the chief clinical officer at NHRMC.

“We have not seen the Thanksgiving spike yet. We usually expect that two to three to maybe even four weeks past the holiday. So we’re concerned that we’ve already started seeing this increase. We really haven’t hit winter. And we haven’t even hit Christmas yet.”

And they’re already preparing these patients to arrive:

“We actually have an entire wing that is just Covid patients or an entire floor. We have another floor that is partially, so yeah, this is not anything we’re comfortable with. We are under strain right now.”

An average stay is about two to three weeks. And Paul says the treatments available have gotten much better, but he says they still have mortalities.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ map alert system, which shows the severity of the virus’s spread, New Hanover County seems to be doing better than neighboring counties. But Paul says read that map with caution:

“I think sometimes it’s a little bit of a false sense of security. We are a regional medical center, so when other counties are red, we still have patients that do come from there.”

Paul says we’re all tired, but that,

“It’s time to double down on what we’re doing. We’re just talking about masking, handwashing, and social distancing. We really have to be hyper-vigilant about doing this because we have not gone through a winter with Covid before. We were right at the tail end of the winter when it started. So we are all concerned about what this may look like.”

For the hospital, that might look like a decreased stockpile of supplies and added strain on personnel.