Hospitals prepare for layers of COVID-19 surges

Rush for testing following Thanksgiving holiday brings surge concerns
As positivity rates skyrocket, and now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, doctors are preparing for COVID-19 rates to translate to hospitalizations.
As positivity rates skyrocket, and now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, doctors are preparing for COVID-19 rates to translate to hospitalizations. (Source: Jerrica Valtierra, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It all starts at a drive-thru testing site or in the doctor’s office during an appointment. Norton Healthcare System leaders are testing and noticing, positivity rates are skyrocketing, and after the Thanksgiving holiday, doctors are preparing for rates to translate to hospitalizations.

“Mask on, we’ll pull it below your nose, ok each nostril five seconds each. . . Here we go,” said a Norton Healthcare nurse before she inserted a cotton swab into the nose of Carolyn Vigel. For Vigel, it’s become her routine, every Tuesday, every week.

“It gives me a shorter window, so I can say ‘I knew I was negative this day, I new I was negative this day, so it shortens my window of who I know I was in contact with,” Vigel said.

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When the Thanksgiving holiday week approached, Vigel was one of hundreds waiting in line at a Norton Healthcare Testing site. With that, on the side of her Thanksgiving meal, she was able to serve up some positivity after testing negative.

”We didn’t have a lot of people at one time, but it just a bit more peace of mind and making sure we’re safe and keeping the people who we love safe,” Vigel said.

At Norton Health, a record 800 people were tested the day after Thanksgiving. Typically, they test anywhere from 450 to 600 people a day.

“We saw a 28% increase over the past seven days of folks coming into the hospital,” said Charlotte Ipsan, Chief Administrative Officer at Norton Women & Children’s hospital. “We know they’re going to those testing centers and getting tested.”

Staff and facilities within the Norton Healthcare system are focusing on preparing for a surge that has some longevity, as more holidays are approaching. They plan two weeks ahead, but work by the hour to assess what pushes the surge and where the hospital stands regarding capacity.

“We see the 14-day passivity rate increasing,” Ipsan said. “The number of people of getting tested is [turning] positive so we can not be vigilant enough.”

As a grandmother, employee, Vigel says the facts in numbers, motivates her to test as frequently as she has.

“It just gives me a sense of focus of what I may be having to deal with,” Vigel said.

For Norton Respiratory Illness Testing Center appointments and sites, click here.

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