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SC hospital staff, resources under pressure as COVID-19 cases rise

As cases of the coronavirus continue to rise, so does the pressure on hospitals to meet the need.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — As cases of the coronavirus continue to rise, so does the pressure on hospitals to meet the need.

"We have heard from a majority of our hospitals that are treating COVID-19 patients that staffing continues to be a major issue for keeping up with demand," Schipp Ames with the S.C. Hospital Association, said. "So, while we have bed capacity, the ability to staff all those beds is becoming the major issue."

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Leaders with Prisma Health say the number of patients they've admitted with the virus has more than tripled in the last three weeks and they're up to nearly 300 patients daily across the system. 

In a statement, Dr. Scott Sasser, incident commander for Prisma Health's COVID-19 response, said they're now having to adjust staffing to meet the need.

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"The number of medical staff and most clinical personnel at Prisma Health remain strong, but like many health systems facing a COVID-19 surge, we are reallocating some of our team members to adjust as staffing needs shift, in particular, (registered nurses). We also have hired additional physicians to assist us with the increased need," the statement read. "Nursing plans to accommodate increased staffing needs are already underway, and include calling back furloughed nurses, training existing nurses to work in other areas, bringing in additional temporary – or traveling – nurses to supplement our nursing teams; concentrating COVID-19 patients in specific units and hospitals to better streamline nursing care, and redeploying nurses in management or ambulatory roles to bedside care."

At the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), they're working to develop plans for possible staff-sharing agreements. Others are implementing surge plans, according to Ames. 

"That National Guard has been called-in for five hospitals in the Grand Strand region," Ames said. "We're also hearing reports of hospitals activating alternate care sites. These are places where they can expand their bed capacity beyond a facility."

RELATED: SC National Guard at Orangeburg hospital to help with COVID-19

Both MUSC and Lexington Medical Center say they've adjusted some hospital units to make additional space as the patient count rises.

Although Ames said some hospitals have experienced issues with resources, Prisma Health, MUSC and Lexington Medical all say they have what they need for now.

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"As our front line healthcare workers continue to battle COVID-19 inside of our facilities, we're relying heavily on the community to help us mitigate the spread," Ames said.

To learn more about the coronavirus in South Carolina, view our coverage here.