Fayetteville hospitals bracing for holiday-induced COVID-19 surge

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The surge in COVID-19 cases is straining resources at area hospitals. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center opened a fourth unit just two days ago. Fayetteville's primary healthcare system is bracing for a holiday-induced COVID-19 surge.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sam Fleishman heads up the COVID task force, which leads medical staffers through what have been at times murky waters.

"I wouldn't say we're at capacity. We'll find ways to take care of people if the numbers keep growing," he said. " In some communities, you've seen field tents with people in field tents, and if it comes to that we'll do that. We're not at that point yet."

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According to Fleishman, Hoke Hospital in Raeford is at capacity as of Monday. One challenge that hospitals such as Cape Fear Valley face is the national nursing shortage. It's created a dire need for more medical professionals to treat COVID-19 patients.

"Before Thanksgiving, our average daily census was around the mid-40s. After Thanksgiving it jumped to the 70s. Shortly, a couple weeks after that, since that time, it's continued to expand and grow. Today, we have up to 120 patients with COVID-19 in the hospital here," Fleishman said.

Overall, COVID-19-related hospitalizations are up. On average, every day last week, UNC-Chapel Hill averaged about 76 patients. In Raleigh at Wake Med, about 124 patients and UNC REX averaged about 71 patients. Duke Hospital in Durham averaged about 82 patients each day. These numbers include patients in the ICU and in other areas of the hospital.

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Fleishman, like other hospital officials, said he believes that if everyone did their part by social distancing and wearing a mask, we could control the spread.

"We've got this hill to go up. If we can get over this hill, hopefully we'll get to the other side, but we need everyone to step up," Fleishman said.
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