ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Covid-19 cases are surging in Georgia. There were about 2300 new cases over the weekend, compared to just 300 in a two-day time span last month.

Now with more infections, coupled with a staffing shortage, many hospitals are stretched thin.

Juliet Hope says she was stuck waiting at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital’s emergency department in Marietta with a couple dozen other patients a few weeks ago.

“It just took forever, there were people sleeping on the floor,” said Hope. "I asked how much longer it would take for me to be seen, what I was told was the issue wasn't the room, the issue was the nursing shortage.”

Hope said it took more than 10 hours before she was seen.

"It was alarming,” said Hope. But Kennestone Hospital isn’t the only place in the state that has patients sitting tight.

A database by the Georgia Coordinating Center shows at least 18 hospitals’ emergency departments in the last week have been coded in red; they’re marked as “severely” overcrowded. 

Some of those places had to divert patients to other nearby hospitals.

Georgia is seeing potential for another wave of the coronavirus. Nearly 30- to 40- percent of hospitals statewide are seeing a rise in cases and hospitalizations.

“When patients do come in, they’re sicker... requiring more resources,” said Richard Lamphier, president of the Georgia Nurses Association.

Added to that, Lamphier says some hospitals are attributing the wait times to a staffing shortage.

" There are openings in just about every emergency room in the state of Georgia,” said Lamphier.

Emory University Hospital Midtown’s latest status on the database said three departments were “saturated”.

A spokesperson attributed some of it to a higher number of covid-19 patients coming in.

The university released a statement saying:

Like many hospitals across metro Atlanta and the state, our Emory Healthcare hospital emergency departments have been seeing higher volumes of non-COVID-19 patients, which is now exacerbated by a growing surge in COVID-19, resulting in increased wait times for patients who visit emergency rooms. A number of states with lower vaccination rates, such as Georgia, are seeing similar trends. Patients are also presenting with a higher degree of illness which requires more resources to provide care, leading to longer stays in the emergency departments and more patients are requiring admission to our hospitals, which are also busy. We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible to help protect themselves, their families and our community. For those who are unvaccinated, we strongly urge the wearing of masks in indoor public places, as recommended by the CDC.

CBS 46 also reached out to Kennestone Hospital where Hope says she waited for 10 hours; they declined comment.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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