The increase in hospitalizations statewide has reached Beebe Healthcare, where officials say the number of COVID-19-related patients has risen since the beginning of November.
In a Nov. 17 interview, Dr. David Tam, president and chief executive officer for Beebe Healthcare, said over the last two to three weeks Beebe has averaged 20-25 patients who are either positive or under investigation for being infected with COVID-19. “That comes after a previous three- or four-week period with zero COVID-19 patients,” Tam said.
The state reported 153 hospitalizations statewide as of Nov. 16.
Beebe's increase has been gradual – the number of current hospitalizations didn't happen all at once, Tam said.
“It more or less ramped up to those numbers. We're nonetheless ready to take care of more if that happens,” he said.
During last spring's COVID-19 surge, Tam said, Beebe gained valuable experience on managing COVID-19 cases, strengthening their ability to handle the latest surge.
“Additional ventilator capacity and intensive care unit capacity makes us much more capable to care for patients,” he said. “But it's important for the public in our community to know that their numbers are going up, and they should do everything possible – including wearing masks and social distancing – to flatten the rising curve here and throughout the state. But if we do those things, I think we'll be OK.”
Tam speculated that the reason numbers are going up is because people might have been feeling good about how COVID-19 was being contained in Delaware.
“Across the entire state we were looking good, but because of that we might have let down our guard – more gatherings in homes, more people getting together. As a result, cases are rising here and elsewhere,” he said.
Tam emphasized that Beebe's walk-in clinics have plenty of capacity to see people and take care of health issues. “We're doing everything possible to maintain safety in our facilities. Our biggest fear in all this is that people will wait to get treated for something that may be serious, such as heart attack or stroke. As a neurologist, I know that the earlier stroke patients get treated, the better the chance of recovery,” he said.