Laurens County Hospital capacity tightening as case counts climb

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LAURENS, S.C. (WSPA) — Space is becoming increasingly more scarce in the Laurens County Hospital. As of Monday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reports that 64 percent of the county’s hospital beds are now occupied — even after Prisma expanded capacity by 29 beds — and only two ventilators are available for new patients.

“Hospitals are used for all sorts of things other than treating COVID-19,” Laurens Mayor Nathan Sen said. “The problem is, if we max out our facility and we don’t have beds available, if you have a non-COVID-related emergency or illness and we can’t guarantee a bed, that puts us in a very dangerous situation.”

To help alleviate some of the strain on the rural community’s healthcare system, Prisma is relying on help from the South Carolina National Guard and the state’s emergency management department to open a convalescent unit.

“Approved by DHEC, this Laurens County Hospital COVID-19 Convalescent Unit is slated to open Jan. 18 with 15 beds initially and will be supported by a combination of staffing provided by the S.C. Emergency Management Division and medics from the S.C. National Guard, who will supplement our nursing staff,” Prisma spokeswoman Sandy Dees said in an email. “Four medics are currently assigned to that unit.”

Prisma and municipality leadership from across the county is expected to hold a press conference Tuesday to provide more information.

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