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'Very, very near a dire situation': Midlands hospitals seeing a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, hospitals in the Midlands are fighting to keep up with growing hospitalization numbers.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — On Friday, Midlands hospitals united to give an update on COVID-19. During the press conference, Lexington Medical Center (LMC), the Medical University of South Carolina and Prisma Health announced they are seeing a major surge in hospitalizations. 

"We have hit an all time high water mark in our 50-year anniversary on ventilators," said Dr. Brent Powers, Chief Medical Officer at Lexington Medical Center. "We are very, very near a dire situation with respect to capacity and resources."

RELATED: SC reports 6,697 new COVID cases, third highest total ever

On July 4th, LexMed had four (4) hospitalized COVID patients with one (1) on a ventilator, according to Dr. Powers. As of Friday, August 27, there are 190 hospitalized COVID patients with 41 on ventilators.

Lexington Medical Center is not the only facility in the Midlands that is experiencing a surge in cases. Prisma Heath Incident Commander and Emergency Medicine Physician, Dr. Steve Shelton said over 90% of their patients are not vaccinated. 

RELATED: DHEC: Unvaccinated individuals account for 90% of COVID-19 cases and deaths, 86% of hospitalizations in June

"We need help," Dr. Shelton said. "We need our community to step up and to support us. Of those 464 patients, 432 of those are unvaccinated. 32 are vaccinated, but of those 32, those 32 are primarily elderly individuals who are chronically ill and vulnerable on a daily bases."

According to the Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at MUSC-Columbia, Dr. Kale Davis, during this surge, younger age groups are the majority of COVID patients. 

RELATED: More children being hospitalized for COVID-19, SC doctors warn

RELATED: 'They just didn't think they would get so sick': NC doctor says unvaccinated patients skew younger during COVID-19 surge

"In the prior waves, we were seeing many 70 to 80 year old's through those waves," Dr. Davis said. "But, now that those vaccines are available, and because by in large, our elderly population has been vaccinated, the average age has decreased significantly for these hospitalized patients."

All medical units are also seeing a surge in the pediatric patients. Dr. Shelton reported PRISMA Health has 11 children in their Pediatric ICU with a total of 15 beds. Dr. Shelton said only 2 days out of the past 4 weeks, the PICU was not at full capacity. 

RELATED: 16-year-old South Carolina teen dies of COVID, coroner says

Health officials are also seeing a surge in pregnant patients. 

"This is the most surprising twist to the variant and the COVID surge," Dr. Powers said. "So we're having mother's in their 20s-30s maybe the first child, maybe the third child, who are coming in because they cannot breath. And some of them are not doing well. We've had to harvest and section, some of the women to remove the baby, for the baby safety, and mothers are fighting for their lives, in our ICU's; and they're not doing well."

RELATED: South Carolina mom fighting to live after giving birth while sick with COVID-19

RELATED: DHEC says all pregnant women should get COVID vaccine

Health officials are continuing to urge all unvaccinated individuals to get their shot, wear a face covering, and continue to social distance.