By EMILY RICE

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Officials are reporting an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations at Princeton Community Hospital.

"We definitely have seen an increase in positive COVID activity," said Rose Morgan, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services at Princeton Community Hospital.

"When people come in, typically they would be coming in through the emergency department and we would be testing them for COVID," Morgan explained. "If their condition warrants hospitalization, then they would be placed in the appropriate level of hospitalization, in other words, whether they needed to be observed overnight, whether they need to be admitted for treatments or whether they are very ill due to low oxygen saturation level and would need to go to intensive care or maybe needing to be intubated and put on ventilation. It really depends on the patient's condition at arrival to the hospital."

Morgan said that PCH is caring for both kinds of COVID patients at the moment, those who are being housed in the regular medical surgery unit and severe cases that are housed in the intensive care unit.

"A few weeks ago, we were down to only having one or two patients over a 10 day period of time and now we are averaging three to four patients in critical care and another three to four patients in a medical surgical setting," Morgan said.

Morgan said that the majority of patients who are hospitalized for COVID come from the PCH emergency room.

"People that are being tested in outpatient settings that are either asymptomatic or have very low acuity symptoms, are encouraged to stay home and quarantine for 10 to 14 days and get two negative tests for COVID prior to returning to work and other activities," Morgan said. "People that are concerned about coming into the hospital, we do not want people here that do not need to be here, we don't want them to be inadvertently exposed, not only to COVID, but other illnesses, but certainly if patients need us, they should come and we will do what we can to protect both them and our patients and our health care workers. You know, we can't afford to have our health care workers unavailable to us. We would not be able to provide the care our community needs."

As the world enters the second wave of COIVD-19, Morgan said she wants the community to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and use good hand washing techniques.

"What I want the community to know is that we are entering this uptick as our second wave of COVID activity, right on the heels of completing our first wave," Morgan said. "We had a very short period of time in between the end of the first wave and the beginning of the second wave and it is extremely important for the community to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and use good hand washing techniques."

Morgan also encouraged citizens of Mercer County, regardless of age, to take the necessary precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"It is a tough time that we are in and no one expected that we would be in this kind of a pandemic at this point in time," Morgan said. "Surely, a vaccine will become available hopefully in the short term rather than the long term so we will be able to have additional protection against COVID. In the meantime, everyone needs to help prevent the spread because even if you aren't scared for yourself, such as young healthy adult, the COVID infection can be much more devastating to the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions."

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com

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