Cape Fear Valley Health sets up overflow tents as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in North Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cape Fear Valley Health is approaching the recent COVID-19 surge with caution, adding overflow tents in the emergency department parking lot.

This is the second time the health system has deployed the tents during the ongoing pandemic.

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Health officials credit the recent surge to the Thanksgiving holiday and other gatherings, a trend CFVH CEO Michael Nagowski says they've seen since 4th of July.

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Intensive units across the state, including UNC Health, are feeling the strain of staffing as the number of COVID-19 cases begins to outnumber available nurses.

The two tents were set up on Thursday morning and will be able to fit up to 30 patients at a time. CFVH officials say the connecting tents, which will have socially distanced seating, will be utilized if their main waiting room volume exceeds 30 patients.

Susan Phelps is a registered nurse at the hospital and Corporate Service Line Director for the Emergency Department. Phelps said the Fayetteville hospital currently has around 60 patients who are COVID-19 positive, the majority of them dealing with severe symptoms.

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"We're all concerned about the surge. The impact that it's had on our organization, the impact that it's had on our department and our team. At this point, our team is weary, uh, so we want to be able to support them and certainly respond to the needs of our community," Phelps said.

In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, hosted by Cumberland County, Nagowski said the hospital system has plenty of beds and ICU space; however, their medical staff is being stretched thin.

As of Thursday evening, the tents are not being used.
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