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Centra sees influx of coronavirus cases, preps to become potential vaccine distribution site

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:43 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - As work to establish a coronavirus vaccine continues, Centra Health says it’s seeing an influx in coronavirus cases.

The health system has spiked in case totals in a matter of weeks.

“We are experiencing a rise in COVID admissions and hospitalizations," said Chris Lewis, vice president of medical affairs.

As of Tuesday, Centra has a total of 35 patients being treated for coronavirus.

Of those 35, eight are in the intensive care unit. Four of those are on ventilators.

However, Centra has added more beds as flu season gets underway.

“With adding those 18 beds we increased our capacity for critical care in Lynchburg General to 67, so that’s a greater than 35% increase in ICU-level care," said Lewis.

But as vaccine trials for Pfizer and Moderna show promising results, Centra is also preparing itself in another way.

They’re working to become a potential vaccine distribution site.

“We have not heard back yet from the state officials as to whether or not we will be able to be a site, but we’ve certainly taken steps to ensure that we can receive vaccines when and if it becomes available," said Andy Mueller, president and CEO.

Centra says they’ve begun making preparations for those vaccines.

Cold storage will become a factor as vaccines become available.

“We’ve made preparations to ensure we’ve got greater capacity for cold storage in anticipation of the vaccine," said Mueller.

Centra caregivers will still be expected to maintain their same health standards even when vaccinated.

“Once one of our caregivers has been vaccinated, it’s gonna be our expectation that they will continue to utilize the same degree of personal protective equipment that they’ve been utilizing," said Mueller.

It’s not clear yet when a vaccine will become available.

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