Holzer out of hospital beds due to high number of COVID-19 patients

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 10:34 PM EDT
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GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WSAZ) - Four weeks ago on the opening night of high school football in Ohio, Holzer CEO Dr. Michael Canady warned the crowd at the Gallia Academy game about the way COVID-19 case numbers were trending.

On Aug. 20, he said, “My biggest fear right now is a month from now, we may have people getting sick and not have hospital beds for them to actually come and be in.”

A month later, Canady says his fear has become reality.

“Unfortunately, that is our reality right now,” he said. “We had, for example, a patient yesterday who needed an emergency urology procedure. We were able to get it done in the operating room, but once they got done with the case, and the patient did well, we didn’t have a bed, so they had to go back to the emergency room and be transferred to another facility that did have a bed for them to recover.”

Holzer is currently treating 73 COVID-19 patients -- 43 are being treated at their facility in Gallipolis and 30 more through an at-home program.

“I think the public doesn’t have a great perception of how bad it is in the hospitals,” Canady said.

The Holzer CEO says they have had to delay some other procedures because of the high number of COVID-19 patients.

He says the situation is taking an emotional toll on those who work there.

“It’s been a significant emotional trial,” he said. “We had a relatively young gentleman who passed away yesterday. He had a large family, several kids under 15, and it just really takes a toll. They get to know these patients, because a lot of them are here for quite a while because of the nature of COVID and how long it takes to get better. They develop relationships, and it just breaks their hearts. It’s very, very tough.”

Canady says the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not gotten the vaccine. He says 55 percent of people in the state of Ohio have been vaccinated, but counties in our region are closer to 40 percent.

“I just can’t encourage people strongly enough to get the vaccine,” he said. “I’m almost thinking of it as a patriotic kind of gesture for people. We lost 600,000 people in the Civil War. We’ve already lost 650,000 people in the U.S. as a result of COVID. If we’d gotten 80 percent of our population vaccinated by the late spring, we’d be seeing a handful of patients in our ER right now.”

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