August 4, 2021 – With the number of positive
COVID-19 patients increasing every day at its Brunswick and Camden Campus hospitals,
Southeast Georgia Health System nurses and physicians are pleading with
the community to get vaccinated.
“We’re tired, and we’re at our wits’ end,”
says Jan Jones, R.N., BSN, director, Patient Care Services, Southeast
Georgia Health System. “As soon as a patient is discharged from
our critical care unit, or worse, is deceased, there’s another patient
to put in that bed. It’s like a revolving door that we can’t
Similar to most hospitals across the nation, Southeast Georgia Health
System is reporting a sharp rise in COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Health
System leadership attributes the increase to the more contagious delta
variant, low vaccination rates and relaxed safety measures.
“This summer we were starting to feel some relief with our COVID-19
patient census hovering between four to eight patients in early July,” saysMichael D. Scherneck, president and CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System. “People began
to relax. They stopped wearing masks and social distancing. Even though
the CDC recommended that unvaccinated people continue to wear masks, you
rarely saw anyone wearing one. Yet, as of today, our community’s
vaccination rate is less than 40%, and we need to reach 70% to achieve
Due to the increased patient volumes and growing positivity rates in the
community, the Health System has reinstated visitor restrictions, limiting
patients to one visitor per day.
“We regret having to limit visitors, and we realize the impact it
has on our patients and their families. But our primary concern is the
health and well-being of our team members and patients. We must protect
them from possible exposure,” says Scherneck.
The Health System is also postponing some elective surgeries, particularly
those that require an overnight stay.
“With such a high census of COVID-19 patients, we’ve had to
convert regular patient rooms into coronavirus rooms,” says
Alan K. Brown, M.D., chief medical officer. “More importantly, we need the nursing staff
to be available to care for COVID-19 patients.”
Brown adds, “We had hoped the vaccine would bring us the relief we
all so desperately need, especially our nurses. It’s very hard and
disheartening for our health care teams to be going through this again.
People need to get their
vaccine. While it’s true that there’s still a chance of contracting
the virus after being vaccinated, the vaccine reduces the risk of becoming
seriously ill and being hospitalized. The vaccine has been proven to be
safe and effective and it’s free. There’s no reason to delay
getting a vaccine.”
Jones agrees, “This surge isn’t like the ones we experienced
last year. The delta variant is much more contagious and it’s impacting
much younger patients, even those who don’t have chronic health
issues. It’s so sad when we have to put a 20 or 30 year old on a
ventilator. We just need people to realize that this virus doesn’t
discriminate. You can be young and healthy and still end up hospitalized
in a critical care bed. Please get the vaccine to protect yourself and
The Health System offers free COVID-19 vaccines to everyone age 12 and
older at its Brunswick and Camden campuses; dates and addresses are listed
on the Health System’s website at
sghs.org/covid19-vaccine. Individuals with questions about COVID-19 symptoms can call the Health
System’s free screening hotline at 912-466-7222.