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Hospitals in Prince George's County bracing for coronavirus surge

'We're literally at the beginning of the surge. We still have a ways to go,' hospital CEO says.

The intensive care unit at Prince George's Hospital Center is now for coronavirus patients only.

More than 50 people are currently getting treatment, according to the hospital’s interim CEO, Dr. Joseph Wright.

"What has been fairly sobering is to observe how sick some of these patients are and how quickly they can go downhill,” Wright said.

As of Monday night, Prince George's County has more confirmed coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the state – 2,205 people so far. The state has 8,936 cases total, meaning Prince George's County alone accounts for a quarter of the COVID-19 cases in the entire state.

Prince George’s Hospital Center is already operating at its highest level of surge planning. That means staffing is at its max and they've converted every room possible to handle those in need of extended care.

"We're literally at the beginning of the surge. We still have a ways to go,” Dr. Wright continued.

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Wright said they don't want to tap out their resources too soon.

They're now looking at other sites in the University of Maryland Medical System to take the load off busy hospitals, like the one in Prince George's.

A surge tent to handle extra patients is already being set up at Bowie Health Center. And what was once Laurel Regional Hospital is re-opening next week with 135 additional beds to help handle the caseload.

Despite the intense efforts to mobilize resources, Wright said they still need more equipment. 

"This disease keeps people on a ventilator for a long period of time.  A week or two is not unusual," he said.

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The toughest problem to solve right now is getting extra manpower to take care of these additional patients and keep those currently on the front lines from burning out.

"We have to provide relief for our people. We've got critical care doctors and nurses who are working around the clock,” Wright continued.

While the focus is on the response to COVID-19, Wright said they’re still maintaining a high level of care and attention to those transported to the hospital for other medical emergencies.

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