Watauga Medical Center

Watauga Medical Center, part of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, is located on Deerfield Road in Boone and serves the High Country region.

BOONE — Watauga Medical Center has 16 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 with 14 of those not vaccinated as of Oct. 1. 

Of the 16 patients, two are on ventilators, according to Rob Hudspeth, senior vice president of system advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

The number is down from Sept. 15 when the 23 patients were hospitalized due to COVID-19. 

"The cases appear to be sort of stable," Hudspeth said. "Too early to tell if they're trending down." 

Hudspeth said the hospital has been fortunate in that it has not had to ration care at all. The main issue, Hudspeth said, is a staffing shortage as the staff at WMC are tired. 

"There's planning at every step of this," Hudspeth said. "I just have to give our operations team so much credit because they they flex and scale down appropriately. We've taken measures in the past where we stopped doing elective surgeries and procedures. That was last year. That was one of our responses. Hopefully we wouldn't get back to anything like that, but those are the kinds of things that we do as we see increases beyond what our capacity would be."

Hudspeth said the hospital does what it can with what they have. For example, he said WMC opened a new ICU last week that was scheduled to be completed several months from when it originally opened. 

"They accelerated the completion of that and were able to finish it last week," Hudspeth said. "We've got a new 10 patient ICU that that is open just because this team of people decided they were going to make it happen."

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