UVA Medical Center gearing up for rise in COVID-19 cases

UVA Medical Center gearing up for rise in COVID-19 cases

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - UVA Health confirmed in an email to employees Friday, December 4, that the University of Virginia Medical Center is in a surge of coronavirus cases. While central Virginia’s hospitals have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 to this point, the growing need is forcing them to shift priorities.

It’s not just bed space that UVA Medical Center is worried about, but also staffing and safety. Its keeping a close eye on all three with cases on the rise.

“We are seeing that our numbers are starting to increase a little bit, but we feel very well prepared,” UVA Medical Center CEO Wendy Horton said. “We have the physical capacity that really has differentiated us from other health systems across the nation.”

Horton expressed that the UVA Medical Center has been fortunate in the COVID-19 fight so far. Her confidence in the hospital stems largely from recent boosts to the PPE supply chain, and the increased bed capacity made possible by the opening of the new hospital tower. The number of ICU beds occupied has not really changed since the tower opened, but the hospital’s approach to filling them has.

“It’s really modulating how best to triage the most important care, and so that’s really where we’re at now,” Horton explained. “I would say that capacity-wise, we’ve been full all along.”

As cases climb, the UVA Health System could be forced to cut back on elective procedures once again as it shifts focus to the coronavirus fight. The determining factor will not be space, but manpower.

“I think it will be in in sort of a smaller sort of increments, if you will. It won’t be an all or nothing, probably for us,” Horton explained. “The rate limiting step is really going to be sort of our inpatient nursing capabilities so we have enough capacity within the facility. Really, it’s the staffing component that we’ll need to pay really close attention to.”

Manpower requirements that are already seeing some staff cross trained for other departments.

“We’re floating team members to other teams,” Horton said. “Of course, a lot of training goes on to make sure that we do that safely, but there is a lot of cross training and support and teamwork.”

Horton also says that, in central Virginia, people following safety guidelines like mask wearing and social distancing has been making a huge difference in helping to keep the medical center from being overwhelmed.

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