Delta Health – The Medical Center is seeing more than 100 patients per day in its wellness clinic for COVID testing and treatment.
As of Jan. 4, 533 people had been tested for COVID-19 and 277 tested positive in 2022 alone.
In December 2021, the staff tested 2,321 people and 705 tested positive with COVID-19. In December 2020 1,530 people were tested and 286 tested positive with COVID-19.
The rise in cases is due to the virulent Omicron strain of the virus and not unique to Washington County, according to Kim Dowdy, Community Development Manager at Delta Health System.
“As the leader in treating COVID for the entire region, we are seeing patients from all over,” Dowdy said. “Many of the clinics in our community send COVID patients to our Wellness Center due to our success in treatment and we have seen patients from multiple different states drive to Greenville for treatment.”
While the numbers testing positive have risen, Dowdy said the hospital is still seeing a low admittance rate.
“The Medical Center has been aggressive in treating patients on an outpatient basis, with a goal to keep patients out of the hospital,” Dowdy said. “Our hospital is seeing 75% less inpatients but more than double outpatients than last year around the same period.”
Recent changes in allocations from the state of Monoclonal Anitbodies and other regimens has forced the hospital to adjust its cutting-edge treatment procedures a bit but is still remaining effective.
Multiple medications that are working seem to be throttled back with severely limited allocation,” Dowdy said. “According to Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweet on Twitter Tuesday, the state is receiving and allocating to hospitals and clinics (270 bam, 336 Regen, 283 Sotrovimab – for the entire state, no number on monoclonals…) but not at the amount and pace needed to continue treating over 100 patients per day just at The Medical Center.”
While the treatment regimens may not be at the necessary level, the new variant of COVID-19 seems to be less severe than previous versions.
“At this point, the omicron variant does seem less severe than prior variants, however with the continued rationing and without the available medications to treat, we could see an increase in more extreme cases if the medication is not sent to hospitals and clinics at a more rapid pace,” Dowdy said.
Experts say testing is the best way to determine what you have since symptoms of the illnesses can overlap.
The viruses that cause colds, the flu and COVID-19 are spread the same way — through droplets from the nose and mouth of infected people. And they can all be spread before a person realizes they’re infected.
The time varies for when someone with any of the illnesses will start feeling sick. Some people infected with the coronavirus don’t experience any symptoms, but it’s still possible for them to spread it.
Cough, fever, tiredness and muscle aches are common to both the flu and COVID-19, said Kristen Coleman, as assistant research professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Symptoms specific to COVID-19 include the loss of taste or smell.
Common colds, meanwhile, tend to be milder with symptoms including a stuffy nose and sore throat. Fevers are more common with the flu.
Despite some false portrayals online, the viruses have not merged to create a new illness. But it’s possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which some are calling “flurona.”
“A co-infection of any kind can be severe or worsen your symptoms altogether,” said Coleman. “If influenza cases continue to rise, we can expect to see more of these types of viral co-infections in the coming weeks or months.”
Since Dec. 25, 2021, there have been 433 new cases reported in Washington County by the state and one death. There have been 8,079 cases and 171 deaths in Washington County in total.
Statewide, there have been 579,773 cases and 10,511 deaths since reporting began.The extra work load of COVID testing and treatment has had a strain on the staff at the hospital.
This is probably one of the toughest times in the history of healthcare to be on the forefront of providing care,” Dowdy said. “As the safety-net hospital and leader of healthcare in our region, we see everything and most providers in the area send their patients to The Medical Center or one of our clinics. As expected, our staff has been experiencing stress and exhaustion but remain committed to the mission of healing. Our physicians, nurses and clinical staff and non-clinical staff have proven that we are extremely dedicated healthcare providers who work above and beyond. We would match our personnel up against anyone. The nursing shortage remains a critical concern. Rural hospitals throughout the state are experiencing similar shortages and we continue to look for relief and support.”
While the strain is evident in the hospital, the method of treatment prescribed by the staff has shown phenomenal results.
“Based on our treatments and protocols, we were published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health Study, June 2021,” Dowdy said. “And in the Journal of Mississippi State Medical Association October 2021.” Both can be found here: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7998063/ and https://ejournal.msmaonline.com/publication/?m=63060&i=729894&p=10&ver=….
The Associated Press contributed to this report.