DHS emergency departments suffer capacity issue during the holidays


ELKINS — Davis Health System officials are expecting inpatient and emergency department beds to remain near or above capacity levels throughout the Christmas and New Years’ holidays. Chief Medical Officer Catherine Chua, DO, FAAFP, FMNM, CPE, is asking community residents to help relieve pressure on local emergency departments.

“Our emergency departments are averaging higher volumes than normal, and with urgent care clinics and other care providers closed for the holidays, we anticipate even greater demand for care in our ED’s,” said Chua. “We’re equipped to address the need but ask that patients understand there will be greater wait times and possible delays in transferring high acuity patients to other health systems.”

A statement issued by the clinical leadership of West Virginia community hospitals predicts the highest number of COVID – 19 hospitalizations in the state since the pandemic began. “The vast majority of patients in the ICU and on ventilators are unvaccinated and the national shortage of monoclonal antibodies has greatly restricted access to an effective treatment option. In addition, we are seeing high numbers of patients with other medical conditions requiring hospital care such as flu, heart diseases, cancer and trauma…the reality is most hospitals throughout the state have more patients in their emergency departments than they do staff to care for them. This results in longer wait times, patients being treated in hallways and waiting rooms, and diversions to other medical providers where staff has capacity to provide acute care services.”

“The holiday creates a unique challenge for accessing care because clinics and provider offices will be closed,” said Chua. “DirectCare of Elkins is open on Sunday, December 26, and our family practice clinics reopen on Monday. Some acute conditions may be more appropriate for these settings if the patient is comfortable waiting. Serious symptoms, however, should never be ignored. Call 911 and report to the nearest emergency department for any life-threatening illness or injury.”

“We’re asking people to be a little more patient with our healthcare workers. They’re working as efficiently as possible to take care of everyone who presents to our ED. We’re going on two years of this pandemic and frankly, many of us are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. A little kindness goes a long way.”

Davis Health System operates emergency departments in Randolph, Barbour and Webster counties.

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