Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bill Johnson estimated 20% of Tennova-Cleveland’s bed capacity is occupied by COVID-19 patients — to date, the most pandemic-related patients at Bradley County’s local …
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bill Johnson estimated 20% of Tennova-Cleveland’s bed capacity is occupied by COVID-19 patients — to date, the most pandemic-related patients at Bradley County’s local hospital.
In an interview with the Cleveland Daily Banner on Wednesday, Johnson said 24 COVID-19 patients now occupy hospital beds at Tennova. That includes patients on the hospital's COVID-19 designated floor, as well as nine patients in intensive care. Johnson said two of the patients in the ICU were on ventilators and another half-floor of the hospital has been dedicated to nine possible COVID-19 patients awaiting test results, meaning 33 of Tennova’s 177 beds are dedicated to coronavirus patients.
Johnson said Tennova hasn’t reached its bed capacity yet, “but it’s getting tight.”
He added that he’s concerned about the nonchalant attitude some residents have about the coronavirus with the belief that COVID-19 is a “mild-to-moderate disease.”
“If you walk around the hospital, you will see that these are not mild illnesses and it’s a serious problem,” Johnson said. “People need to appreciate that this is a big deal. Now, 24 patients is not a huge, huge number, but it’s pretty big compared to what we’ve seen and if you’re one of those patients, it’s certainly a big deal.”
Just as Tennessee has seen its statewide numbers climb, Johnson said he has watched the cases of Bradley County jump from fewer than 10 new cases on a given day to averaging nearly 50 daily reported cases.
“There has been a little debate about the data-collection methods with the Tennessee Department of Health, but even with minor changes, we have averaged between 20 and 55 new cases,” Johnson said. “We average around 26 a day now, which is quite a lot more than it was three to four weeks ago.”
Johnson said large indoor gatherings are the likely culprit for the recent increase in cases and hospitalizations. In observing the rising numbers of cases and patients, Johnson said he is “absolutely” worried about the direction Bradley County is headed in the pandemic.
He urged people to follow all of the given guidelines, including staying home as much as possible, social distancing, washing and sanitizing hands and mask-wearing.
Johnson said social-distancing alone is “not enough,” adding that passing by someone carrying the virus presents virtually no risk of infection, but being in the same room as them for a long time presents the highest risk.
“Hand-washing and hand-sanitizing is a huge deal. Excluding all politics, masking, especially indoors, clearly makes a difference,” Johnson said. “I would avoid businesses where the employees are not masked. Personally, I turn around and walk out if servers are not masked. In those situations, employers need to be responsible, as well.”
Despite the rise in COVID-19 patients, Johnson maintains that Tennova is a safe place and said he worries for those who think otherwise and are infected with the novel coronavirus.
“Early treatment matters. I don’t want anyone to think that if they feel pretty sick to not go to the hospital because they’re afraid of getting COVID here,” he said. “The hospital continues to be a safe spot. No patients have been infected here and no employees have been infected from the hospital.”
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