Upstate hospital’s staff impacted by COVID-19, officials say

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Health officials with Bon Secours told 7 News COVID-19 has really taken a toll on their staff, and–with school starting back soon–they only expect it to get worse. They said it’s up to us, as individuals, to help them get a hold of it.

7 News spoke with medical professionals about what we can do to ensure they’re able to take care of us when we need them.

“Our front-line staff, they’re exhausted,” Chief Clinical Officer Marcus Blackstone said.

Those at Bon Secours are working around the clock as they continue to see more and more cases of COVID-19.

“In the Upstate, our numbers are higher than they’ve ever been,” Dr. Blackstone said.

And, now, included in those numbers are some of their own employees.

“They’re either getting symptomatic or they’ve had an exposure and we have to keep them out of work,” Blackstone said.

Dr. Blackstone told 7 News they have the beds they need to accommodate the uptick in cases, but they’re struggling with the amount of those whose job is to watch over the beds; and they’re having to bring in travel nurses, but even those are now hard to come by.

“ICU nursing staff, there’s just not that much extra staff out there,” he said. “So, when you start losing ICU staff, we really have to limit the number of ICU beds we can use.”

Unfortunately, with school starting back soon, they only expect the number of cases to keep climbing.

“If you’re going to talk about school, I think you take the young kids out, because that’s not the problem,” Blackstone said. “The problem is that 12-20 and 21-30 age range who–number one–kind of think they’re invincible and–number two–don’t think this will affect them.”

Blackstone said he trusts that–if students return to class–the school districts will have appropriate safety measures in place.

“If the safety pieces are followed, like masking and social distancing, the chances of them spreading it in school, I think, are minimized,” he said. “You always worry, though, about when they go home to the community spread. That’s what’s getting us.”

And if students do virtual learning, the hospital has a plan to work with parents the way they did when schools were closed in the spring.

“It’s really important to us to make sure that our employees get their kids taken care of but can work,” he said.

They’re just pleading for the community to follow the same guidelines they’ve been preaching since the start of the pandemic. Otherwise, they’re worried they could be overwhelmed and not have enough staff to take care of people.

“That’s our biggest fear every day,” Blackstone said.

Dr. Blackstone is encouraging folks to avoid gathering in large crowds, saying that’s been a huge contributor to the rise in cases.

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