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Sylva Commissioner warns board about current COVID19 surge in Jackson County

Sylva Board of Commissioner Ben Guiney spoke to his fellow board members last week during the January 14 board meeting regarding the current COVID19 situation in Jackson County. 

Dr. Guiney, who published a letter to the editor in local newspapers last week about his personal experience with COVID19, works inside the Emergency Department at Harris Regional Hospital. 

“I can’t remember the last time there has been an ICU bed (available) and I have never had anything like I did when I went in there,” said Dr. Guiney.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Jackson County has administered 923 doses of the vaccine, with another large scale community event scheduled this week. 

NCDHHS is reporting that Jackson County has seen a total of 2,767 positive COVID19 cases, 724 of which have occurred in the last 14 days. Jackson County is also reporting 20 COVID19 deaths. 

In his Letter to the Editor, he wrote “all the rooms are full, the waiting room has 10 people in it, there are two ambulance crews in the hallway waiting to unload patients into rooms that don’t exist. The hallway beds are full. On almost every door to every room “positive results” is the sign.”

According to Dr. Guiney, Mission hospital goes on diversion, meaning they send ambulances away because the hospital is at capacity. 

“Mission isn’t accepting patients other than trauma and heart attacks,” said Dr. Guiney. “There is nowhere to end anybody. Charlotte is full, as I mentioned in my editorial, everywhere is just full. I have never been in that position before, where I have patients on ventilators in the ER.”

Dr. Guiney said based on what he has experienced working in the ER, the community spread in Jackson County is severe. 

“At this point, you should assume everyone you are talking to has COVID,” said Dr. Guiney. “It is just that bad.”

Dr. Guiney also spoke to the toll the pandemic is having on staff saying that nurses are so beat down and just tired. 

“I have walked in busy ERs many times in my career, but I have never seen anything like those,” Guiney wrote in his Letter to the Editor. “No only is the hospital full, but non of the larger facilities are taking patients. Not Asheville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Gainesville, Knoxville…not anywhere.”

In both his COVID19 update to the Sylva Town Board and inches Letter to the Editor, Dr. Guiney urged residents to get the vaccine and to remember that while they are growing wearing of precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing, remember that the ER doctors and nurses are also growing weary, but as they continue to fight to save lives, he asked the public to do what they can as well. 

“We will get through this,” he said. “We have to.” 

One Comment

  1. S S January 19, 2021

    Thank you for this information. I don’t understand why it is not on the front page of every local newspaper and being broadcast on every local radio station. We have to give these healthcare workers some relief!

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