Beckley ARH sees COVID-19 surge, majority in ICU unvaccinated

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — COVID-19 cases are on the rise across our region and one local hospital is seeing a surge in ICU patients.

“We’re on the front lines of literally a war and it’s against a disease you can’t see in the air,” said Charlie Garvin, Clinical Nurse in the Beckley ARH Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

COVID-19 cases are rising across the region and Garvin said COVID-19 patients take up a majority of the ICU. In the Beckley ARH ICU, 70-percent of COVID-19 ICU patients are on a ventilator.

“Majority of them of our patients that are in the ICU are COVID positive and the majority of those are on ventilators,” said Garvin.

Beckley ARH saw some of the highest numbers they have ever seen recently. On Sept. 2, they saw 181 patients across the ARH system hospitalized due to COVID-19 and only ten of those patients were vaccinated. Healthcare workers say symptoms are more severe for unvaccinated people.

“We’re seeing a lot of unvaccinated people end up in our ICUs, we don’t have anyone that’s vaccinated in our ICUs currently,” said Holly Tonelli, Infection Control and Employee Health Nurse Practitioner.

The surge of COVID-19 patients is limiting hospital capacity for other medical emergencies. Tonelli said patients with severe COVID-19 spend prolonged periods in the hospital. The surge of COVID patients is also taking a toll on healthcare workers here in Southern West Virginia.

“None of our nurses and staff have been able to take time off, we have worked at 150 percent for the past 500 and some-odd days, and we really need the community support now more than ever,” said Tonelli.

Garvin calls the ICU nurses soldiers. He said every nurse is working hard and working together to take care of COVID patients in the ICU, fighting the war against the virus.

“Even when we give our 100 percent, they’re not getting better or they’re not getting better as quickly as we like to see, it’s stressful,” said Garvin.

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