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Rising COVID Numbers Affecting Hospital Workforce

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the Ohio Valley, local hospital workforces are feeling the impact of that surge.

Wheeling Hospital announced Monday morning that more than 70 employees currently are off the job with COVID-19 or quarantined due to potential exposure to the virus. That came on a day when Ohio County joined Marshall County in “red” — the highest-risk category on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources daily COVID-19 alert map — and the Marshall County Health Department reported two more COVID-related deaths.

Wheeling Hospital Chief Executive Officer Douglass Harrison said the hospital expected a rise in patient cases and began planning for such a surge in March. The hospital has the resources for COVID patients, but “the situation is very fluid and being monitored hourly.”

Wheeling Hospital is moving staff to different areas to ensure coverage and new staff is being hired and going through orientation to help strengthen the workforce.

The hospital is limiting elective surgeries, but doctors’ offices remain open, though hospital officials are asking patients to reconsider routine appointments or screenings.

Harrison suggested the hospital’s downtown urgent care clinic, as well as walk-in clinics in Woodsdale and Martins Ferry for minor illnesses and injuries.

“We are managing, but it is stressful,” Harrison said.

“To continue to provide the high quality care our patients have come to expect is our ultimate goal. The next several weeks will certainly be a trying time for all health care entities.”

In Glen Dale, Reynolds Memorial Hospital also is dealing with COVID complicating work schedules. Dr. David Hess, President and CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, said eight employees currently are off due to COVID or quarantining.

“Our staff has done an amazing job stepping up to work extra and are heroes in our eyes,” Hess said. “We have asked them to take care of themselves so that we can take care of the community and they have answered that call. They have been selfless and amazing throughout the pandemic.”

The virus pushed its way through local long-term care facilities as well. According to the DHHR’s website, all three Ohio County facilities are dealing with COVID outbreaks. The DHHR dashboard has logged one positive resident and 11 positive staff at Wheeling Hospital’s Continuous Care Center, 20 positive residents and 16 positive staff at Good Shepherd Nursing Home, and 49 positive residents, 15 positive staff and eight deaths at Peterson.

In Marshall County, Stonerise Moundsville, formerly known as Mound View, had 79 positive cases among its 83 current patients, according to the Stonerise website.

The two deaths reported Monday by the Marshall County Health Department were an 80-year-old man hospitalized at the time of his death and a 99-year-old man who was a resident of a long-term care facility at the time of his death. The county also reported 43 new confirmed positive and 15 new probable cases, bringing those totals to 1,110 confirmed cases and 176 probable cases, 14 hospitalizations and 27 associated deaths.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department reported 39 new positive cases, bringing Ohio County’s totals to 1,680 positive cases and 18 COVID-related deaths.

Marshall and Ohio are two of eight “red” counties on Monday’s alert map, joining Ritchie, Wirt, Mineral, Grant, Mason and Wyoming.

Ohio County showed an infection rate on Monday’s map of 84.86 positive cases per 100,000 residents with a percent positivity of 8.17. That’s a leap from 7.01 percent on the Sunday map. Marshall County had an infection rate Monday of 86.56 positive cases per 100,000 residents and a percent positivity of 9.77.

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