UNC, Duke hospitals see increase in COVID-19 in-patients

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC Health and Duke Hospital both said more people are needing hospital care after being tested for COVID-19.

Dr. Abhi Mehrotra, medical director for the UNC Department for Emergency Medicine, said the hospital system has increased its staff to treat COVID 19 in-patients--patients that need to stay in hospital beds due to severe symptoms from the novel coronavirus.

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"We are keeping a close eye on the patients arriving and our capacity. We now have three-times-a-week capacity-planning calls both at the emergency department level and the inpatient hospital level, and having close communication to say what do things feel like where you are? How do things feel on the in-patient side, so that we can ensure we're meeting needs of our patients and our staff," Mehrotra said.

Since March, Dr. Mehrotra said his team has been preparing for an increase in hospitalizations, and said they expected an uptick once the state began its phased reopening.

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Right now, UNC has 118 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds. The health system said it still has the capacity to treat more in-patients if the numbers increase.

State health leaders said approximately 79 percent of in-patient beds are filled statewide. That number is based on hospitals reporting their numbers.

This weekend, Duke Hospital is opening part of its new tower as a COVID-19 Unit for respiratory care.

Doctors are urging people to remember the three W's--wash your hands, wait six-feet apart, and wear a mask.

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A Cary man is still recovering from the coronavirus two and half months after he first went to UNC Rex hospital.

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