By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cots being set up in gym as NGHS seeks more space for surging number of COVID patients
12102020 NGHS 2.jpg
NGHS officials meet inside a gymnasium at Laurelwood Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, where cots are set up for COVID-19 patients as the system sees a new record of COVID-19 patients and is running out of space. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Northeast Georgia Health System is sponsoring coverage directly related to public safety so that it can be made available free to non-subscribers as a public service. News coverage is independently reported. We know that you need accurate and up-to-date information about the effects of the coronavirus in the state and our region. Please consider supporting our work by subscribing to The Times.


Create your own user feedback survey

Northeast Georgia Health System is preparing an overflow treatment space as it hit another new record of COVID-19-positive patients on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

The system was treating 217 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, its highest number since the pandemic began and the fourth day over 200 in a week’s time. 

At the health system’s Braselton and Barrow hospitals, no beds were open Wednesday. Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville had 24 available beds, with only one bed in the intensive care unit available and another 100 occupied. 

Dr. Clifton Hastings, chief of medical staff at NGMC, said patients who are less critical are sometimes transferred to the Barrow or Lumpkin hospitals. The system is preparing an overflow treatment space in a gym at Laurelwood, a mental health facility on the NGMC Gainesville campus, Hastings said. About 25 to 30 cots will be moved into Laurelwood, and that space will hopefully open next week, Hastings said.

Honestly local

The Times is staying in close contact with local health officials and working to keep you updated on what is happening locally as COVID numbers surge. We know credible local information is crucial now more than ever. To our subscribers, thank you for your support; it helps us provide the journalism you've come to trust. For those interested in becoming part of our mission to provide fair, unbiased coverage of our community, please consider these two options.

SUBSCRIBE  

DONATE

To reach our newsroom with tips or questions, email news@gainesvilletimes.com.

12102020 NGHS 1.jpg
Northeast Georgia Health System has set up cots in a gym at its Laurelwood facility Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, as the system sees a new record of COVID-19 patients and is running out of space. - photo by Scott Rogers

“We are seeing the surge that was predicted. We are weathering it but we really don’t have any capacity at this point,” Hastings said on a call with the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. “We’re just making do. … It’s a pretty significant situation that we’re dealing with.”

NGMC Gainesville already has a mobile unit near its North Tower with 20 beds. The Gainesville and Braselton hospitals have tents outside for extra treatment space. 

NGHS announced new visitation policies for its hospitals Wednesday. For COVID-19 patients, the system changed visitation from three days a week to just Saturday. 

As of Wednesday, Hall County has seen 13,614 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and 1,475 of those cases have been reported within the past two weeks, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. There have been 1,331 hospitalizations in Hall County, according to the state.

Dr. Zachary Taylor, director for District 2 of the health department, said the surge seems to be driven by smaller gatherings of extended family and friends. There have also been some outbreaks at long-term care facilities and places of worship, he said.

“It is not connected to any particular ethnic group or race. It is all over,” Taylor said Wednesday. 

In most cases, students do not appear to be contracting COVID-19 from school, Taylor said.

“Obviously, we have cases in our schools, but frankly, most of the cases we see in students at school, those students were infected in the community,” Taylor said. “They weren’t infected in the schools, and schools are doing a good job at preventing transmission.”

Four Hall County schools have canceled in-person instruction in the past week, and a school system spokesman has said the system believes transmission occurred on those school campuses. 

12102020 NGHS 6.jpg
Crews enclose a walkway Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, at Laurelwood as Northeast Georgia Health System prepares a gymnasium with cots for overflow COVID-19 patient space at that facility. The system hit a new record of COVID-19 patients Dec. 9 and is running out of space. - photo by Scott Rogers
12102020 NGHS 7.jpg
Crews enclose a walkway Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, at Laurelwood as Northeast Georgia Health System prepares a gymnasium with cots for overflow COVID-19 patient space at that facility. The system hit a new record of COVID-19 patients Dec. 9 and is running out of space. - photo by Scott Rogers
12102020 NGHS 3.jpg
Northeast Georgia Health System has set up cots in a gym at its Laurelwood facility Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, as the system sees a new record of COVID-19 patients and is running out of space. - photo by Scott Rogers
12102020 NGHS 4.jpg
Northeast Georgia Health System has set up cots in a gym at its Laurelwood facility Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, as the system sees a new record of COVID-19 patients and is running out of space. The first patients began moving into the space on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers
12102020 NGHS 5.jpg
Northeast Georgia Health System has set up cots in a gym at its Laurelwood facility Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, as the system sees a new record of COVID-19 patients and is running out of space. - photo by Scott Rogers
Regional events