TMH continues to grapple with COVID

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. Photo credit: Jade Patterson

Is the ongoing pandemic just among the unvaccinated?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 Delta variant is more than two times more contagious than the previous variant and  causes more infections and spreads faster than the original SARS- CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. With the spike in COVID cases this summer, the seven-day average jumped up to over 60,000 new cases. Some workers at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare saw a difference between the initial outbreak back in 2020 and the Delta variant’s impact this summer.

The emergency room at the hospital has split the waiting rooms in two. On one end are patients without COVID symptoms and on the other end are patients who have been exposed to COVID and or have COVID-like symptoms. The nurses and emergency care technicians are now taking patient’s vitals in the waiting room and or at the front desk.

EMT Jalen Smith, who started working at the hospital right before the start of the pandemic, said the work dynamic is a lot different now. Smith said he started working in the emergency room about three months ago and ever since COVID started, the hospital has changed a lot of its rules.

“It’s been crazy, just seeing how many people are really sick,” Smith said. “Before COVID, it was actually really nice. A lot of things weren’t how they are now. We would go to lunch together, sit in big groups and it wasn’t a big deal.”

Smith went on to say that he and his colleagues now must keep their distance from one another and mask up to keep each other safe.

Dr. David Bellamy , an orthopedic surgeon at TMH and chairmen of surgery, said  he has seen the impact the Delta variant has had on Tallahassee residents. “It seems to be much worse locally for hospitalizations, than COVID was previously a year ago,”  Bellamy said. “The Delta variant has been worse for us, than the original version.”

Bellamy said he doesn’t deal with COVID patients as often as his co-workers do, but he has seen mainly those who are unvaccinated filling the hospital’s rooms.

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated right now,” Bellamy said.

“I’m not a COVID expert, from what I can tell, the best thing you can do for your family, your community, and yourself is get vaccinated.”

Von Knight a registered nurse and house supervisor, has been working at Tallahassee Memorial for more than 20 years. She said that the hospital is currently full and that she has seen a spike in COVID cases especially after the Delta variant emerged.

“The hospital has been full. Our story is the same as all hospitals — we’re full,” Knight said.

Knight said she has seen a combination of people coming into the hospital with COVID. “With this variant it seems to be the younger population, that 20–50-year age bracket,” Knight said.