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Area hospitals adjust operations


Like the rest of the state, hospitalizations are dropping at both major hospitals in the Morgantown area.

WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright and Chief Administrative Officer at Mon Health Mark Gilliam said numbers at both facilities are down and staff morale is improving. Both were guests recently on WAJR’s Talk of the Town.

“We’ve still got some COVID cases, but it’s good to see it getting better and hopefully it will keep going in that direction,” Wright said. “Probably our biggest challenge right now is staffing and making sure we have the workforce.”

According to Gilliam, Mon Health has less than 10 coronavirus patients in its Morgantown hospital, the lowest patient total in months. The sustained drop in cases has reduced staff stress.

“With the decline in cases we’re seeing a little bit of optimism coming that perhaps we’re getting on the other side of this thing,” Gilliam said. “It’s been a long haul and they need a break.”

The prolonged emergency response showed the staff at WVU Medicine they had to find ways to improve workflow by maximizing qualifications and talents. In addition to moving qualified administrative staff back into a clinical setting, they found ways to incorporate tasks to improve efficiencies.

“COVID is a prolonged emergency and everybody else is going through it, so there’s not others coming from other areas to help,” Wright said. “So, we have lost a lot of our workforce — people have just gotten tired.”

For the last several weeks, 354 members of the West Virginia National Guard were assigned to 38 healthcare facilities in the state. The mission has ended, but the soldiers provided vital support when hospitalizations were trending above 1,000. Some of those soldiers have accepted permanent roles with the organizations.

“It’s another hand to help out. We really got a good pick up in staff morale,” Gilliam said. “They have just been tremendous in showing up, doing work and assimilating into the organization.”

Both organizations have restarted elective procedures. Both are also monitoring virus activity and working to maintain capacity in the event of a new variant or surge.

“Once you get on the other side you see this flood of individuals coming in that are a lot of times sicker because they did delay,” Gilliam said. “So, our surgery volumes and operating rooms are running at full-bore capacity.”