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CARILION FRANKLIN MEMORIAL

Administrator provides update on state of hospital

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Carl Cline, vice president and hospital administrator for Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, stands inside the tent that was recently set up outside the hospital to provide extra emergency department waiting space.

Recently, Carl Cline, the vice president and administrator for Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount, provided The Franklin News-Post with an update on the state of the hospital.

Cline started by discussing the tent that was recently set up outside of the hospital. He explained it will serve as an extension of the emergency department’s waiting room, which will allow for greater social distancing when the interior waiting room is full.

The decision to install the tent was based on a desire to be prepared in the event that it is needed, especially considering the number of individuals seeking care from the emergency department.

To date, the tent has yet to be used.

“I wanted to set it up and have it available because when you need something like this, you need it pretty quickly,” he said. “I’m an old Boy Scout. I believe in being prepared.”

The hospital’s emergency department is at full capacity nearly every day, Cline said. Some patients who are waiting for admission or to be transferred are being treated by hospital staff as though they have been admitted to the hospital.

“Like any emergency department, we have a limited number of beds,” he explained. “Because of our limited number of beds, it is very important that the community help us.

We’ve done what we can. We are now seeking help from the community by getting vaccinated, continuing to wear a mask and continuing to social distance. We need every person to be vaccinated.”

He said individuals should not seek care at the emergency department unless they are “in a life or death situation.”

Normally, the hospital has four ICU beds. Due to the need for social distancing and additional space for COVID-related supplies, the hospital is only able to maintain three ICU beds at the moment. All three are currently in use.

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“We’re seeing quite a surge in our COVID patient population,” he said. “Most of those patients are unvaccinated.”

According to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday, the seven-day average number of daily new COVID-19 cases reported in Franklin County is 29.

In addition to the difficulties the hospital is facing related to an increase in patients, it is also facing staffing shortages. “We’ve been short staffed for a long time, even pre-pandemic,” Cline said, “but we’re getting even more short staffed just like every other hospital in the country.”

The staff that he does have, he said, is working extremely hard to make sure patients are getting the care they need.

“They are totally dedicated to taking care of their community. It pains them greatly that we are struggling and having to go through something that could be prevented,” he added.

“If our community was completely vaccinated, we wouldn’t see this and we wouldn’t be going through the challenges we’re going through right now. Everyone is tired.”

Carilion Clinic announced on Aug. 18 that employees vaccinated by Oct. 1 would be recognized with a $150 incentive.

Those employees who are not vaccinated will be tested weekly for COVID-19 starting (Friday).

“Our top priority is to keep our communities healthy,” Jeanne Armentrout, RN and executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Carilion Clinic, said at the time of the announcement.

“Getting the vaccine is a crucial way our employees can continue to fight back against this deadly virus. We wish to recognize the high vaccination rate among our staff and encourage more vaccinations.”

According to Hannah Curtis, who works in media relations at Carilion Clinic, “We have continued to see an increase and are making gains daily. It’s safe to say that we’re around 75% vaccinated for the entire system and are still working to track that number as it changes daily. It’s also important to note that nearly all of our physicians are already vaccinated.”

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