Hospital CEOs frustrated by Delta surge
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to surge again, the CEOs of Athens’ two hospitals expressed their frustration during a community conversation today hosted by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.
Piedmont Athens Regional CEO Michael Burnett and Montez Carter, CEO of St. Mary's Health Care, say roughly 90% of patients admitted to their hospitals are unvaccinated. Burnett says the vaccine is effective, yet people are still refusing it -- causing the Piedmont staff to become frustrated.
"We know there's a way that we can get over this, but we're still dealing with it," Burnett said.
He also stressed that the Delta variant puts more children at risk of contracting the virus. "Because it is a much more contagious variant, we are going to see more cases in the pediatric population."
Montez Carter from St. Mary's says the resistance to the vaccine in Athens impacts other communities as well.
"There are a lot of patients in outlying rural facilities that need to come to us for a high level of care because those communities don't have the capabilities to care for those patients," Carter said. "Right now, we can't accept them."
Burnett said this vaccine hesitancy will cause COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to continue to rise, especially in the absence of masking and social distancing.