MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Monday report from the DHHR drops statewide hospitalizations slightly from 958 over the weekend to 915. The report said ICU admissions are at 269 and 177 people are on ventilators statewide.
On WAJR’s Mon Health Talk, President and CEO David Goldberg said the overall downward trend is good to see, but most Mon Health hospitals are still operating at or above capacity.
“At Mon Health Medical Center on Morgantown we are Just shy of 30 COVID patients, 9 or so in the ICU. I was on a system call this morning and we had seven COVID-related deaths over the weekend alone,” Goldberg said,” Down at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital we are holding patients in the emergency room.”
The continuing drop in active case numbers is encouraging as well as the renewed interest in initial vaccinations and the Pfizer booster program. Still, a large majority of those being treated in hospitals are unvaccinated.
“While the numbers overall are coming down, hospitalizations in pockets of West Virginia are still pretty steady,” Goldberg said.
Like many other hospital systems, Mon Health has had to limit elective procedures that could require an overnight stay. But, Goldberg said they are working across the system to find as many opportunities as possible to help people stay on their preventative health track.
“We have a committee led by surgeons that meets weekly, and some times more than once a week,” Goldberg said,” To review what’s being scheduled to make sure what they need we have capacity for it.”
Staffing and costs continue to be a major issue.
Before the pandemic, Mon Health conducted 75 to 100 elective procedures daily. That volume helped pay for staffing needs throughout the system.
Early in the pandemic, some of those workers were paid while not working in order to ensure availability when elective procedures could resume. As the pandemic continued, the hospital was faced with filling staffing needs in a very tight labor market.
“Just the cost in increasing our staff and paying staff when we staffed down, and on top of the cost for contract labor for us was about $5 million on an annualized rate,” Goldberg said,” That’s a huge amount of money and elective procedures helped pay for that.”
President and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association, Jim Kaufman said cost and staffing problems are old issues that have been exposed as major problems in the healthcare delivery system during the pandemic.
“All of those existed prior to COVID, they’ve just been exacerbated,” Kaufman said,” So, we look forward to working with the governor and legislative leaders to address those issues long term.”