Centra Health nearing a ‘breaking point,’ top officials say

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - In a virtual update Thursday, Centra officials said their system continues to bend.

A steady influx of coronavirus patients has pushed them nearly to their limits.

“We don’t break, we continue to bend, but even [as] an organization that doesn’t break and bends, I’ve gotta be honest - we’re starting to get close to the breaking point,” said Andy Mueller, president and CEO.

Mueller says the situation may cause the health system to reevaluate their operations.

They’re currently treating 105 people with the virus and fear more is to come.

“I don’t want us to end up being like the folks at southern California who are having to make difficult decisions about who gets care and who doesn’t. We’re not that far away from that here,” said Mueller.

Centra says nearly 40% of Lynchburg General’s beds are committed to coronavirus care. That’s up from nearly 30% only two weeks ago.

It’s caused a shift in use of more units of the hospital.

“If you face Lynchburg General as many of you have seen, the new tower, the east tower, that is almost exclusively now being dedicated to COVID patients,” said Chris Lewis, vice president of medical affairs.

However, vaccines have meant some good news for Centra.

Lewis says Centra is doing over 400 vaccines a day at Lynchburg General.

Centra has opened up vaccinations to all its employees and says some caregivers have already received their second dose.

“We have done this for long enough now that we are now seeing repeats and we are now fully protecting caregivers and that number is going to start climbing rapidly,” said Lewis.

The nationwide problem of staffing is also affecting Centra. They say staff are having to work extra shifts to help cover the system’s needs.

They also say the next couple months will be critical for them and the community.

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