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(Southern Maryland)- Back in March 2020, Maryland began to record its first Coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths. At the time, doctors knew very little of the disease, and the Acute Bed Units in Maryland Hospitals soared to 1,123 patients. At that time, a total of 28,163 Marylanders had tested positive for COVID-19.

Fast forward to the Fall of 2020 and acute beds sit at 874, its highest since May 20, 2020, and now over 170,000 Marylanders have tested positive overall. Doctors know more now thanks to contact tracing and studying of the disease and its patterns. Yes, Maryland is testing more people, roughly 30,000 tests a day, and it shows, as our positivity rate state-wide has climbed 6.82%; the highest it has been since May 25, 2020.

Due to the case surge and positivity rate climbing on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan began reimposing some restrictions, targeted at some of the problem areas. These areas included hospitals and nursing homes.

“We are in a war right now, and the virus is winning,” said Governor Hogan(at the Press Conference). “Now more than ever, I am pleading with the people of our state to stand together a while longer to help us battle this surging virus. Your family and friends are counting on you, your neighbors are counting on you, and your fellow Marylanders are counting on you to stay ‘Maryland Strong.’”

Governor Hogan and State Health Officials ceased all hospital visitation with the exceptions of end-of-life care, obstetrics, parents/guardians of minors, and support for people with disabilities. All Southern Maryland Hospitals and those across the state have updated their current visitation policies to reflect this. CalvertHealth’s Amy Lutz, Director of Public Relations and Marketing told The Southern Maryland Chronicle, “Effective Friday, November 13, 2020, CalvertHealth made the decision to restrict visitors. Now, with the updated state of emergency from the Maryland Department of Health, all hospitals will restrict visitors. Visitor exceptions can be found on our website at CalvertHealthMedicine.org/Visitation including those who require assistance.

In preparation for the potential COVID surge, Hogan issued an emergency order allowing hospitals that are at or near capacity limits to transfer patients to hospitals that can properly care for them. MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Philanthropy Holly B. Meyer said, ” Four surge tents are stationed on the hospital’s campus should we need to expand the capacity of our facility. We are also equipped with 30 negative pressure rooms to safely isolate and care for COVID-positive patients. “

“In Calvert County and here at CalvertHealth Medical Center, we’ve seen a decline in the number of COVID-positive or Persons Under Investigation for COVID requiring hospitalization since April, even with the slight increase we have recently experienced.

“What we have been experiencing recently is an increase in the number of patients requiring acute care due to chronic diseases or heart conditions. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theodore Tsangaris stated, “People are waiting to seek the care they need for a variety of reasons. We want to caution people not to wait if they need emergent care.” Tsangaris added, “Our Emergency Room team is here when you need us. If anyone is having heart issues or any other emergent healthcare need, you should seek immediate care,” said CalvertHealth’s Lutz.

Cheryl Richardson, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital said, “[we]have worked hard to ensure capacity by nearly doubling our critical care unit beds and quadrupling our negative air pressure rooms. The hospital also has two large flexible structures outside to care for an overflow of patients if needed. We acknowledge that should another COVID-19 surge occur, it could come as we are also treating patients for flu and other seasonal illnesses.”

All of the hospitals we spoke with reported having sufficient Personal Protection Equipment(PPE), and continue to restock as it is used. Several companies throughout the region have donated supplies to Nursing Homes or Emergency Medical Services throughout the pandemic.

One of the biggest challenges is “COVID-fatigue”. It’s not just happening to the everyday person reading the paper or watching the news. First responders, and particularly the medical community are feeling it.

“We have an incredible care team at CalvertHealth who pull together even under the most extenuating circumstances,” said Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Clinical Services Diane Couchman, MBA, BSN, RN. Couchman continued “Everyone is pulling together as we have always done when faced with challenges and I have no doubt we will continue to do so – whatever the future holds.”

“Many of the Maryland hospitals, including CalvertHealth Medical Center, have a concern with sustaining staffing levels required for a surge.”

Not only are hospitals in the area preparing for the potential surge of hospitalizations due to COVID, but they are preparing for what has been dubbed the “twin-demic”, the flu and COVID seasons combining. “Each year, all hospital associates receive a mandatory flu shot to protect our patients and staff, which remains our top priority,” said Richardson.

“Everyone who can get a flu shot should do so. We have an exceptional, experienced care team who are prepared to treat our community for the flu, COVID, or any other illness. “You will not find a more dedicated and professional team ready to care for its patients than those here at CalvertHealth,” said President and CEO Dean Teague, FACHE.

Maryland currently has a case rate of 29.03 per 100,000 and has recorded at least 1,000 new cases per day for 15 days, with at least three days reaching over 2,000 new cases.

“CalvertHealth is always preparing for any type of emergency and we feel we are in a good place to respond to a surge. To help assist in our response, we hope that everyone heeds Governor Hogan’s and our local Health Department’s advice to social distance – especially during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and practice safe infection control practices.”

“CalvertHealth is already seeing a slight increase in hospitalized COVID patients, but this is nowhere near the numbers we saw back in April which came close to 20 patients. Today, Tuesday, November 17, we have five (5) COVID-positive patients being treated in the hospital,” says Lutz.

There are multiple testing locations throughout the Southern Maryland region. “Our drive-thru COVID testing site was the first to open in Maryland and continues to test daily; flexing hours when necessary to meet the needs of the community. As always, we are working very closely with our community partners and practitioners to stay informed and connected, just as we did before the pandemic,” said Meyer(MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital).

“CalvertHealth has worked alongside the Health Department from the beginning and continues to do so to provide testing for our residents through the county’s testing site, currently located at College of Southern Maryland. Currently, COVID testing is offered in a variety of places including our community providers. ChoiceOne Urgent Care also offers rapid testing,” stated Lutz.

Below is a list of Testing Locations offered in Southern Maryland (as listed by the Maryland Department of Health. Your Doctor’s office may offer testing or provide an order to visit another location)

Calvert County:

College of Southern Maryland, Prince Frederick Campus

  • 115 J W Williams Rd., Bldg. B, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
  • Tuesdays from 8:30-11 a.m.
  • Thursdays from 1-4 p.m.
  • In order to get an appointment, you must have an order from your healthcare provider.  

ChoiceOne Urgent Care Center, Prince Frederick


Charles County

CVS

RightTime Medical Care

  • 3350 Crain Hwy., Waldorf, MD 20603
  • Monday-Sunday 8am-10pm
  • Appointment

ACRPoint Labs

  • 6 Post Office Rd., Suite 102, Waldorf, MD 20602
  • Monday-Friday 8:30am-4pm
  • Appointment

MedStar Waldorf Urgent Care

  • 3064 Waldorf Market Pl., Waldorf, MD 20603
  • Rapid testing only when symptoms present. Appointment not required if symptoms present.
  • Appointment

Regency Furniture Stadium(Blue Crabs)

  • 11765 St. Linus Drive, Waldorf, MD 20602
  • Tuesdays 8 am-12 pm
  • Pediatric Testing – Call 301-609-6717 if you have questions about getting your child tested.
  • Appointment Required

Patient First-Waldorf

CVS

RightTime Medical Care

  • 500 Charles St., La Plata MD 20646
  • Mon-Sun: 8am-10pm
  • Appointment

St. Mary’s County

MedStar Charlotte Hall Urgent Care Center

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

  • 25500 Point Lookout Rd., Leonardtown, MD 20650
  • Monday-Friday 9 am-12 pm
  • A doctor’s order is required prior to testing. Doctors can fax orders to 240-434-7621

RightTime Medical Care

  • 44980 Saint Andrews Church Rd., California MD 20619
  • Monday-Sunday 8am-10pm
  • Appointment

St. Mary’s County Health Department,

Main Office:

  • Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • 21580 Peabody Street, Leonardtown
  • For assistance or accommodations, call ahead to (301) 475-4330

Harm Reduction Program Office:

  • Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • 46035 Signature Lane, Lexington Park (co-located with U-Haul Moving & Storage)
  • For assistance or accommodations, call ahead to (301) 862-1680
  • Appointment-free
  • Doctor’s order for testing: Not required
  • Walk up for testing, parking is available

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

  • 7503 Surratts Road, Clinton, MD 20735 (testing tent located in the main visitor parking lot)
  • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 days a week
  • A doctor’s order is required

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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