FCHC has faced ‘critical crunch’

Emergency visits, critically ill patients increase

By Drew Stambaugh - [email protected]

The Fulton County Health Center reported an influx of patients over the last two months and, according to a message to the community, expect it to be worse in December.

From Oct. 3 to Nov. 27, Fulton County Health Center (FCHC) had 56 COVID positive admissions. That number does not include those who came through the emergency room and transferred to other hospitals due to lack of beds or conditions that require treatment FCHC doesn’t provide.

“FCHC nursing staff and support staff have been working hard for the last 18 months with a critical crunch in the last two months due to the increase number of patients and we expect it to be worse in December than October and November,” the message read. “This situation is affecting our capacity to care for patients with a record number of inpatient admissions with very sick people with COVID-19, patients experiencing increase ER wait times, and extended wait times to transfer to other tertiary hospitals because they are full too, and yes, we have experienced more deaths in the last few months due to COVID-19 than the hospital has experienced in the past.”

The hospital reported that 45 of the 56 COVID patient admissions were unvaccinated with 11 vaccinated. The average age of the unvaccinated patients was 56, while the average age of the vaccinated was 72.

“We encourage everyone eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to be vaccinated or get a booster as soon as possible. Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce severe illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.”

Just under 50% of Fulton County residents have received at least one COVID shot.

The average length of hospitalization with COVID-19 is six days at FCHC. Most are discharged on home oxygen if not transferred to another hospital.

That can be an issue, as there is a national shortage of portable and home oxygen. “We have staff who spend hours hunting down a company that can provide home oxygen services,” according to FCHC.

The hospital also reported that average emergency department visits are now 4.75 hours, from a normal 2-3 hours.

Hospital officials urge area residents to visit urgent care for mild symptoms and treatment. They also advised residents not to use the ER for COVID testing if they do not have symptoms.

“As our area continues to struggle with the impact of COVID, we want to thank our area residents for the support, thoughts and prayers each of you have shown us these past two years as we all have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the message concluded. “Your thoughts, prayers, support and encouragement now more than ever makes us FCHC Proud… proud to serve this wonderful community, proud to make a difference in the lives of those we care for, and proud to provide the means for continued health and wellness to you and your family. Together we can make a difference.”

Emergency visits, critically ill patients increase

By Drew Stambaugh

[email protected]

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010