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Centra sees continual coronavirus cases increase, one on ECMO machine

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - In a virtual update Wednesday, Centra Health came together to share that coronavirus numbers continue to rise.

They say the steep increase is a concern for the toll the virus can cause.

“If you hear numbers day over day, you can lose sight of these are actually people, and when I talk about our local numbers, these are our local people. These are our friends, our family,” said Chris Lewis, vice president of medical affairs.

As of Wednesday, Centra says it has 34 patients with the virus in Lynchburg General.

Of those 34, 14 are in the intensive care unit, with nine being on ventilators.

They say one COVID-19 patient is on an ECMO machine - something Centra says is a last resort for a patient.

“It’s sort of basically putting that patient on bypass, meaning that that machine is doing the work of the lungs,” said Lewis. “It’s bypassing all the blood away from the lungs and oxygenating it on the outside of the body and then putting it back into the patient.”

One thing Centra says hasn’t quite gone away is the handshake.

Although it’s used as a greeting and sign of respect, they say it can play a part in spreading the virus.

“And it’s a rare day where I go where somebody doesn’t extend their hand just as a gesture because we’re so reflexive in doing that, again, as a sign of warmth and kindness and respect, but the reality is that we gotta start replacing that with another sign,” said Andy Mueller, Centra president and CEO.

They also said their nursing facilities have been improving, and that currently, their Southside hospital has no coronavirus patients.

So far, Lynchburg General has seen 18 people die from the virus.

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