Pushed To Limit, Albany Hospital Continues To Break COVID Records
There doesn't seem to be an end in sight for Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany.
As the delta variant surges in Georgia and across the country, the hospital continues to break records for COVID-19 cases, a bleak flashback to last year when Albany was a global hotspot during the onset of the pandemic.
On Friday, Phoebe Putney was once against at its highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began, with 199 patients in the intensive care unit, up from 40 people at the beginning of the week. Of those nearly 200, 19% were breakthrough cases.
As things grow dire, the hospital has employed a new weapon in the fight against the virus — getting information out via social media. In the past several weeks, the hospital system has employed streaming Facebook videos with doctors and hospital staff and posts across different platforms as a means of encouraging those to get vaccinated and stay vigilant in their communities.
Phoebe Putney spokesperson Ben Roberts said the move is vital to helping inform the public.
"We were probably the first hospital in the country to release daily figures of how many people were in the hospital total, how many people had died from COVID, because we thought that that transparency was crucial," he said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Roberts said the hospital witnessed firsthand how misinformation could be easily spread through the community.
"We also felt transparency was important to let our community know how bad the situation was back then," he said. "Now, they needed to know how bad it has gotten again so that they can take the proper steps to protect themselves."
Roberts said the one silver lining to all of this has been that the hospital has seen an increase in people seeking vaccinations.
"We have really been inundated by people who immediately want to come get a shot," he said. "So our numbers really have been going up."
Dr. Amber Schmidtke reported Friday that the situation is indeed dire in Georgia, with cases rising 32.3% and hospital admissions rising 25.1%. Deaths also rose 21.5%.
All of this has led to the Department of Public Health returning to Albany to open up a mobile COVID-19 testing site at the Phoebe Putney campus, another grim flashback to 2020.