Hospital concerned about capacity as COVID-19 continues to spread

COOKEVILLE – Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) urges Upper Cumberland residents to take precautions now during the holiday season to reduce the spread of COVID-19 amid concerns about hospital capacity.

 “As we head into the holidays, we can expect to see the highest numbers of the pandemic ahead of us, and we are extremely concerned about the patient surge we are facing,” states Paul Korth, CRMC CEO. “While we currently have enough capacity to care for our existing patient load, we are concerned that we are on the verge of capacity and overflow issues if our communities don’t take precautions.

“We are pleading with people to take personal responsibility and practice the precautions that we’ve all talked about for months – wearing a mask, socially distancing, washing your hands and keeping your social circles small.”

CRMC has continued to adapt and plan for a COVID-19 patient surge and has successfully been able to increase capacity as the number of positive cases has risen; however, as numbers continue to rise, the medical center may begin to experience challenges and limitations in physical resources, like beds, ventilators and staffing. With current trends, it is highly likely that the medical center will reach capacity in the coming weeks. 

“It’s difficult to say what our capacity is because it is highly variable from day to day – even hour to hour,” adds Korth. “It is dependent on our resources and our staffing at any given time. I can say with certainty that we don’t have unlimited capacity. We are reaching a critical point in our region where our public can’t just assume that we’ll have a bed when and if they get sick. If we don’t take steps now to halt the spread, we will likely not be able to admit every patient that comes to us.”

The spread of COVID-19 is preventable through simple precautions.

“It’s time to think about flattening the curve again. We can do it if we’ll just all work together in our communities. Everyone has to take it seriously and take the proper steps,” Korth says. “Remember, you may be contagious even if you aren’t showing signs and symptoms of COVID. Experts say that you are contagious 48 hours prior to having symptoms.”

During the holidays, CRMC encourages families to take steps to protect each other, especially vulnerable members of your family who may be elderly or have weakened immune systems. Remember, you may be contagious even if you aren’t showing signs and symptoms of COVID. Consider gatherings with members of your household only during this holiday season. Skip traditional gatherings in the spirit of keeping your loved ones safe.

Tips for a safer holiday gathering:

  • Consider gatherings with only members of your household during this holiday season. Skip traditional gatherings in the spirit of keeping your loved ones safe.
  • If gathering with people outside of your household, gather in a larger location according to the size of your gathering so that everyone can spread out.
  • Open a window to circulate air indoors.
  • Spread out and wear masks when not eating. 
  • Stay at least six feet apart.
  • If the weather allows, spend time together outdoors. Wear a mask even when socializing outdoors.
  • Consider serving the food so that everyone is not touching the same serving utensils (i.e., one person serves food, one person serves drinks, etc.)
  • Seat family members who live together at segregated tables while eating if seating is six feet or less apart. Guests from different households should be seated more than six feet apart while eating outside.
  • Have plenty of hand sanitizer available.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used items and surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, countertops, etc.). 

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