Marian Regional Medical Center prepares for potential COVID-19 surge following Labor Day weekend

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 07, 2021

A local hospital is preparing for a potential COVID-19 surge after the Labor Day holiday.

Holidays typically prompt many people to travel and attend large gatherings which health experts say has been proven to lead to an influx of COVID-19 cases.

Now with the highly transmissible delta variant, they say the possibility is even greater.

"It's a little bit like disaster planning. You say, 'ok, if in two weeks this were to happen, what would our plans be for rooms, IV equipment, the antibiotics necessary, staffing,'” said Marian Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Chuck Merrill.

That staffing includes nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, housekeeping, and more.

Merrill says they've seen this after every major holiday with cases starting to increase 7-10 days later.

Many Central Coast residents say they traveled this Labor Day weekend to visit family. Others say they decided to stay home this year.

"Usually during holiday weekends I am traveling, but not that I am scared of the delta virus but I have a grandson and you know, it was hard not to go visit my son and his wife,” said Santa Maria resident Vernon Degraffin-Reid.

Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria currently has two ICUs open operating at about 70-80 percent capacity but Merrill says that percentage changes on a daily basis.

"We could have a third ICU. We've had the fourth ICU and hopefully, we won't need to use that again,” Merrill said.

He adds that when ICU capacity is expanded, patients are put on the telemetry floor, a floor where patients are under constant electronic monitoring. For example, someone who's experienced a heart attack or stroke.

"We are ready if this gets any worse and we think it may. We are ready to handle it,” Merrill said.

Hospital officials say the last time they had to open up to four ICUs was earlier this year during the January spike in cases.