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Sovah Health curtailing elective surgeries for two weeks

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Sovah Health held a virtual press conference Friday afternoon.

At least for the next two weeks, Sovah Health in Martinsville and Danville is going to scale back elective and non-urgent surgical cases because of a surge in the number of COVID-19 patients at both campuses.

Gunn-Nolan headshot

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan.

At a virtual COVID briefing on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan said the hospital is attending to about 50 COVID patients spread evenly across both campuses. On Friday afternoon Gunn-Nolan said that number had increased to about 60.

“It’s unfortunate that we must again take this action to pause elective surgeries,” said Gunn-Nolan at the press conference called by Sovah Health. “We are making these changes so we can continue to take care of our community.”

Larson
Sovah Health - Danville President and CEO Alan Larson.

Sovah Health—Danville President and CEO Alan Larson noted that this isn’t the first time during the pandemic the hospitals have had to pause elective procedures.

“We’ve been here before, and this seems to be effective in helping us manage these resources,” said Larson. “We’re disappointed we have to make this response because we feel our responsibility is to take care of folks, but in order to take care of the increased number of people with COVID, we need to curtail our elective procedures, putting it on pause for a couple of weeks and in that period of time it should help us catch up.”

Spencer Thomas Headshot
Sovah Health - Martinsville CEO Spencer Thomas

Sovah Health—Martinsville CEO Spencer Thomas agreed with Larson saying although he was disappointed with the decision, it was the appropriate thing to do.

“Much of this is preventable through vaccinations and masking,” said Thomas. “Although this is a difficult surge, the worst I’ve seen, everyone pulls together when they need to and it gets done.”

In a release that accompanied the press conference, Sovah Health said they cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.

“The new COVID variant looks to be far more contagious than previous variants and appears to be having more breakthrough capability among vaccinated people,” the release said. “The impact is now hitting our hospital and impacting our ability to care for our community.”

Although the number of COVID-19 patients is stable, Sovah Health says they are closely monitoring local transmission rates and reviewing their policies and plans to prepare for the possibility of increased hospitalizations.

“We want to reassure our communities that it is safe to come to the hospital should you or your family need care,” said Larson in the release. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of everyone who walks through our doors and continue to provide the necessary care our communities need.”

Gunn-Nolan pointed to Friday as the 661st day of a “global pandemic.”

“It is not over yet—I get it, your body, your right, but you not wearing a mask puts everyone around you at risk,” said Gunn-Nolan. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Everyone is tired, everyone is exhausted and everyone wants this to end, but it won’t unless we make some changes.”

Friday morning the updated numbers from the Virginia Department of Health showed no new deaths in the district due to COVID19 in the past 24 hours.

Henry County continued to lead the district in deaths due to COVID with 212, followed by Franklin County with 132, Martinsville at 100 and Patrick County with 72.

Henry County has had 488 hospitalizations due to COVID since the pandemic began, followed by Franklin County with 308, Martinsville at 190 and Patrick County with 139.

From Thursday to Friday, Franklin County had 65 new COVID cases, Henry County had 59, there were 19 in Patrick County and 19 in Martinsville.

In total, Henry County has had 8,089 cases followed by Franklin County with 7,740, Patrick County 2,670, and Martinsville with 2,490 total.

The 7-day average number of new daily cases reported per 100,000 population statewide is 171, Martinsville is at 109, Henry County is 99, Patrick County 94, and Franklin County is at 89.

In the state, 67% of the population is fully vaccinated. Martinsville is at 55%, Henry County is 48%, Franklin County 47%, and Patrick County 40%.

The district has had 20,989 total cases, 1,125 hospitalizations and 516 deaths.

Statewide, there have been 1,221,036 cases, 44,056 hospitalizations and 15,651 deaths due to COVID-19.

In the U.S. there have been 59 million COVID-19 cases and 835,929 deaths. Worldwide there have been 302 million cases and 5.4 million deaths as reported by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 2360. Follow him @billdwyatt.

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