Local hospital officials urge people to get tested for COVID-19

Local News

COVID-19 is impacting hospital operations across the nation, taking beds and exhausting staff members.

James Donnelly, the Chief Nursing Officer at UPMC Hamot said COVID tests should be scheduled with primary care doctors

“We use a specialized process, as do all other patients, to make sure the sickest patients [are seen] first,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly added while this isn’t a new strategy, COVID hospitalizations are rising, averaging between 25 to 35 patients each week.

And if cases are severe, it could fill beds and force other patients to wait.

“The unvaccinated are who are getting hospitalized,” Donnelly said. “The delta variant is spreading at a much faster rate [than the original strain].”

Donnelly said while there may be some hesitancy among some community members, the intense treatment of unvaccinated COVID patients is affecting hospital operations across health care systems.

“They’re getting sicker, and they’re getting sicker faster,” he said. “And if you get sick enough to end up in an ICU, it is a grave concern.”

Christopher Clark, the president of AHN St. Vincent Hospital, said one thing patients can do to reduce emergency wait times is to contact a primary care doctor and schedule a COVID test.

“If you have minor symptoms, go through your primary care physician or an urgent care-type setting,” Clark said. “We really should promote that emergency rooms should be utilized for those who have serious medical conditions.”

Experts recommend scheduling a test with your doctor. However, if you want to sign up for a vaccine, hospitals are still booking appointments.

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