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COVID-19 hospitalizations increase across Southern Illinois

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(WSIL)--When it comes to the coronavirus, the hits keep coming.

SIH continues to make adjustments for surge capacity as they see a record number of hospitalizations.

Today they began weekly news conferences to update the developing situation.

According to SIH officials, it is not the lack of available ICU beds that is causing concern for hospitals. In fact, having to adjust beds in the ICU is very normal for hospitals across the country.

The real problem comes from the strain the influx of patients has on nurses and doctors.

So far, SIH has had 380 COVID-19 positive patients that required hospitalization throughout the system.

Yesterday, there were 50 hospitalized patients at SIH, a record high since the pandemic began. Staff at SIH is prepared to care for patients, but the extra steps involving PPE make caring for them more intensive.

"It's not really a bed issue right now, we have the beds. It's more the staffing demand to care for a patient with COVID-19 is much more substantial than taking care of a medical patient that's in the hospital or a critical care patient that's in the hospital. It's, logistically, it's just much more difficult" said Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Harre.

Harre also said an additional lane is being added to drive through testing centers due to an influx of those in need.

Right now, with more than 100 healthcare workers out sick or in quarantine, they stress the need all of us to do our part to stop the spread of the virus.

That means wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands regularly.

Officials at Southern Illinois Health, Heartland Regional, Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado, and Harrisburg Medical Center all say that they are seeing an increase of positive COVID-19 cases.

Because of the case influx, and the increase of hospitalizations, officials at all of the facilities urge the public to wear masks, social distance, and wash your hands.

Officials at SIH want the public to know wearing masks acts as a preventative measure to spreading the virus.

"By the time you have symptoms, so I have a fever or I'm coughing, you're five days past when you have been impacting or infecting other people. That's typically the time frame that you're shedding live virus. And that's why wearing the mask is so important because you don't have no idea that you've infected with COVID-19," said Harre.

SIH has begun to postpone certain elective procedures, specifically surgeries that require an overnight stay.

Heartland Regional has also had to make changes to their visitor policy.

Starting November 12th, they will no longer allow visitors at the hospital or associate clinics. However, exceptions will be made on a case by case basis.

You can find the new policy here.

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Madeline Parker

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