COVINGTON, Ga. — Piedmont Newton Hospital is among area health care centers that have been forced to divert patients to other area hospitals at times recently.
But hospital officials would not say if the diversions of patients brought in by emergency medical services were specifically linked to an increase in COVID-19 patients.
The hospital’s parent company said in a statement that demand for Piedmont Newton’s services “fluctuates hour to hour” as the Covington hospital treats COVID-19 patients in addition to its traditional case load from planned and emergency visits, major surgeries and labor and delivery,.
“While our resources and staffing are stable, our volume at times requires the hospital to go on diversion. During those times, patients being transported via (emergency medical services) are directed to other facilities,” officials said in the statement.
“Even when on diversion, we continue to see patients seeking care on an outpatient basis, as well as those that arrive at our emergency department by other means of transportation.”
An Atlanta TV news station recently reported the Covington hospital is seeing “more COVID — and suspected COVID — patients now than at any time during the pandemic.” But Piedmont officials said the healthcare entity does not release information on the numbers of patients suffering from any specific diseases at its facilities.
Officials said in their statement they “typically don’t release information on the number of patients on any given day for any specific treatment, like heart, cancer or stroke patients.”
“We’re using that same standard for COVID-19 and we trust that the relevant state health and emergency management agencies are the best source for ongoing information.
“It’s clear that COVID-19 is part of our collective day-to-day reality and we have incorporated the treatment of these patients into our ongoing approach, while also meeting the health care needs of our much larger patient base.”
An average of 33 new confirmed Newton County cases have been reported per day since July 15, according to the latest numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The department’s Daily Status Report showed 1,368 Newton County residents confirmed with the disease, or a rate of 1,218 per 100,000 population, with 24 deaths as of July 26.
By comparison, only 11 days earlier the county had 1,010 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths — an average of 33 new confirmed cases per day in 11 days, according to the statistics.
The report also stated 161 Newton County residents were hospitalized because of the disease, up from 126 on July 15. However, it did not specify where they were being treated.
Piedmont officials urged area residents to protect themselves from COVID-19 but also “to seek healthcare care when needed” — an apparent reference to fears some have expressed about seeking hospital care in recent months because of a perceived risk of contracting the disease from others.
“It’s alarming that we continue to see people in our communities unnecessarily avoiding needed health care — even emergency care, when it’s a life-threatening situation like stroke or heart attack where every minute counts.”