Mid-Ohio Valley hospitals are feeling the effects of an early start to flu season and a jump in RSV infections, as the specter of COVID-19 also continues to linger.
Memorial Health System, which includes Marietta Memorial and Selby General Hospitals in Marietta as well as Sistersville General Hospital, has seen an influx of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, and flu cases in the last couple of weeks, said Jennifer Offenberger, associate vice president, service excellence.
New COVID cases in Washington and surrounding counties have increased in recent weeks, but Memorial continues to “average about 10 COVID inpatients at any given time,” she said.
Memorial’s Emergency Departments in Marietta and at its Belpre campus have had to go on short diversions “a couple of times over the past couple of weeks but not at the same time,” Offenberger said. Diversion is when the department has “a large volume of patients and not enough facilities and resources to care for more in that moment,” she said.
However, a patient in critical condition — such as experiencing a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening trauma — will be accepted, whether on diversion or not, Offenberger said.
Memorial tries not to go on diversion often, Offenberger said, and at times found itself accepting patients from other hospitals during periods of a high COVID census.
“There are times, though, we find it necessary (to go on diversion) to ensure good care,” she said.
Memorial CEO Scott Cantley tries to collaborate with other hospitals in an effort to ensure they are not on diversion simultaneously, “so we can work together for our region,” Offenberger said.
Officials with smaller hospitals in the region said they have noticed an impact but have not been overtaxed.
“We’re seeing it to some extent, but we’re feeling it moreso that we can’t get our patients to a higher level of care,” Roane General Hospital CEO Doug Bentz said. “It’s very much like back in the COVID days, it feels like.”
Roane does not have an intensive care unit and needs to transfer patients to facilities in places like Parkersburg, Charleston or Morgantown for that and other advanced levels of care, he said.
Earlier in the week, a WVU Medicine Camden Clark official said there had been some instances of diversion recently, but no single, overriding cause. Additional information was not immediately available Thursday afternoon.
Minnie Hamilton Health System in Calhoun County is seeing flu and RSV cases as well. However, “we haven’t seen the significant impact that seems to be being reported around the state,” said Eric Ritchie, chief operations officer.