Prisma doctors say hospitals near capacity, plead with public to take precautions during holiday weekend

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–Prisma Health doctors gave another update Friday on hospital capacity. They say hospital staff are exhausted and running out of room for COVID-19 patients.

Doctors say their concerns have worsened over the past week and ahead of the holiday weekend. They say patients with coronavirus are coming in faster than they can get patients out.

Doctors in the Upstate are begging the public to help them.

“Please, please listen to the advice that we are giving you today,” Dr. Wendell James, Chief Clinical Officer for Prisma Health, said.

Medical experts at Prisma Health say patients are coming in with coronavirus at alarming rates.

“South Carolina has the most infections per capita of any state or territory in the United States,” Dr. James said.

And with about 500 patients system wide, 91% are unvaccinated.

“We are seeing so much unnecessary death and suffering that could have been easily avoided with the vaccination,” Dr. James said.

And although doctors say the 40 to 60-year-old age group is the bulk of those patients, children are being effected too.

“This is a higher rate, more support, more critical illness that we’re beginning to see,” Dr. Robin LaCroix, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Prisma Health, said.

About a third of pediatric patients are covid positive and Prisma’s Pediatric ICU has been at capacity for five weeks.

“We’re urging the public to really step forward and protect the children, not only get the adults vaccinated but let’s get the children who are eligible now to get vaccinated, so when we get approval we are ready to go with the younger children as well,” Dr. LaCroix said.

Doctors say this is a reflection of widespread transmission and are asking adults in the community to step up.

“We have a problem, it is being ignored it is real and it has a potential to cause a lot of misery and death that is necessary,” Dr. James said.

On top of capacity issues, a severe nursing shortage is making things more difficult. Doctors say South Carolina is short 3,500 nurses statewide.

“There are so many patients coming in so fast and so many different places that the nursing shortage has been exasperated,” Dr. James said.

They say if something doesn’t change hospitals will become overrun soon.

“We fear for what could be ahead if members of our community continue to ignore public health guidance,” Dr. James said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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