Emergency departments at hospitals in the Knoxville area are overflowing and many health care workers are absent due to illness, and health care systems are asking for your help as they start a third year battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our communities are still in an emergency,” the hospitals said in a statement Wednesday. “Health care systems continue to be under unprecedented strain. We remain committed to delivering the medical services needed by our communities, but we need your help.
The statement was issued by Covenant Health, which includes Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge; Tennova Healthcare; University of Tennessee Medical Center; Blount Memorial Hospital; and Sweetwater Hospital Association.
“The Omicron variant is racing through East Tennessee with lightning speed, spreading easily from person to person, increasing infections and hospitalizations,” the hospitals said in their statement. “This year. we are also seeing large numbers of patients with respiratory illnesses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), pneumonia, and post-COVID-19 complications, in addition to heart attacks, strokes, and other emergent care needs. Our emergency departments are overflowing with these cases and other medical emergencies, leading to longer-than-usual wait times as we work to deliver care to all who are counting on us.”
The hospitals said health care workers are not immune to viruses.
“Many of our team members are absent because of their own illness, impacting the number of health care workers available to provide care,” the statement said.
“Our hospital organizations are adapting as best we can to these circumstances, and we need your help,” it said. “The safety of our patients, visitors, and team members is always our top priority, and we encourage you to seek health care when and where you need it. Do not postpone regular screenings or appointments. If you have a serious injury or life-threatening illness or condition, don’t hesitate to seek emergency treatment. If you are asymptomatic or experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, visit a community testing location prior to seeking care at the emergency department. Follow the core actions:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Wear a mask and socially distance.
- Follow hospital visitation guidelines designed to keep you, your loved one, and health care providers safe.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Get vaccinated and boosted.
“As they have done at heroic levels since the beginning of the pandemic, our teams are continuing to work diligently and selflessly to care for our communities. We are here for you when you need us. We ask for your patience and kindness to our health care workers and to one another during these challenging times.
“To our health care community, we are immensely grateful for the sustained hard work all of you are doing every day. You have been in it for the long haul, serving nobly, and we sincerely thank you for your unwavering dedication to our patients.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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