MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Ruby Memorial Hospital is one of the state’s busiest hospitals, and, with COVID-19 cases rising again, so are the number of patients in the hospitals.
But, facilities like Ruby are seeing a large problem with those COVID-19 patients.
“Emergency departments both here in Morgantown as well as across the state are really being overrun,” said Todd Karpinski, Chief Pharmacy Officer for WVU Medicine.
It’s not with severely sick COVID-positive patients though.
“What we’re seeing though is folks that are having relatively mild symptoms. So, very similar to a common cold with some congestion, sore throat, headache,” said Karpinski.
The influx of patients experiencing mild symptoms is clogging emergency departments across the state, causing backups in care for those who need it.
Karpinski said as patients are triaged, COVID-positive patients could find themselves waiting for several hours, which causes longer wait times for others and the issue of spreading COVID while in the waiting room.
Those with mild symptoms are unlikely to receive treatment, such as the antibody monoclonal. Many facilities are in low or critical supply of the treatment, such as WVU Medicine St. Joesph’s Hospital in Buckhannon. They plan to slow or stop using the treatment temporarily until antibody treatments supply increases.
Many facilities in north central West Virginia also do not have access to the antiviral COVID-19 medication from Pfizer or Merck, as they are also in limited supply.
Karpinski recommends utilizing urgent care facilities, free testing sites and communication with your primary care physician if you’re experiencing mild symptoms.
“What we hope for is people with mild symptoms, please follow the guidance of your primary care provider,” said Karpinski.
Those with mild symptoms can treat themselves at home with common over-the-counter medicines, like ibuprofen, Tylenol and Sudafed. Karpinski also recommends resting and staying hydrated.
But, when is it time to get some extra help?
“I think if you’re a normal functioning individual and you get up to walk to the refrigerator and you become significantly short of breath, if you have some crushing chest pain, if you’re running a very very high fever that’s not responding to your ibuprofen or Tylenol, I think that when you need to reach out to your primary care doc or the doctor on call and to get some advice on what to do,” said Karpinski.
If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, please go to your local emergency department, or call 911.