Georgia’s worst-hit hospital fills 3 ICU units with ‘critically ill’ coronavirus patients

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A southwest Georgia hospital — that’s reporting more than a quarter of the state’s coronavirus deaths — said Thursday it filled three intensive care units with “critically ill Covid-19 patients.”  

The Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Ga., added a fourth ICU unit to treat patients not infected with the novel virus. It is the worst-hit hospital in the state and within the Phoebe Putney Healthcare System but two other medical centers nearby — Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus and Phoebe Worth Medical Center in Sylvester – have been helping treat patients in the surrounding counties. 

The healthcare system said 31 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 remained hospitalized at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Ninety-five others who are showing symptoms remained hospitalized at the hospital awaiting their test results. 


The headquarters for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  (AP Photo/ Ron Harris)

The headquarters for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  (AP Photo/ Ron Harris)

The Phoebe Putney Healthcare System announced two new deaths from the coronavirus Thursday – a total of 16 people died at their facilities after testing positive. The death toll in the entire state of Georgia stood at 47 on Thursday afternoon. 

“We continue to treat a substantial number of critically ill patients in our ICUs, and, unfortunately, we are reporting more deaths today,” Steven Kitchen, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer, said in a statement Thursday. 

“While most people who contract COVID-19 do not suffer serious complications, this is a devastating illness for many higher-risk patients who can decompensate quickly and suffer severe respiratory distress. Prevention truly is the key to saving lives for that high-risk population.” 

Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Executive Officer told CNN last week the healthcare system went through six months’ worth of supplies in less than a week when they began receiving a sudden influx of suspected coronavirus patients in early March. 

Dougherty County, where Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany is located, remains one of the hardest-hit counties in the state by COVID-19. The county issued a shelter-in-place order on March 20, directing all non-essential workers to stay at home. 

The Georgia Department of Health identified “sustained community spread” in Albany. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) then deployed a team of epidemiologists to investigate the rapid spread of infection in the area, CNN reported.  

 “As the COVID-19 public health crisis worsens, the Phoebe Family continues to do amazing work meeting the ever-growing healthcare needs of our community. I am so proud of how they are rising to meet every challenge with compassion and commitment, and I am grateful for others in the healthcare community who are supporting us,” Steiner said in a press release Thursday. 

“In the last 24 hours, we’ve even heard from physicians and nurses from parts of the state that are not being severely impacted by COVID-19. They want to come serve the people in our region, and we are currently working through the emergency credentialing and onboarding processes so they can do just that.” 

The healthcare system said an additional 168 patients from their facilities tested positive for the coronavirus but were not hospitalized and were instructed to quarantine in their homes. The press release noted that 1,319 outpatients were awaiting test results and 255 people tested negative. 

The mayor of Albany, Bo Dorough, said the state arranged for a local hotel to be converted into a quarantine facility for homeless people or other who need shelter to be placed in isolation. Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday all public schools in the state will remain closed until April 24. 


In another part of the state, a 42-year-old Georgia hospital worker was discovered dead inside her home Tuesday with her 4-year-old child next to her body, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. A COVID-19 test was conducted after her death. It came back positive. 

The woman, Diedre Wilkes, lived in Newnan, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta, and had no known underlying health conditions. She worked as a mammogram technician at Piedmont Newnan Hospital. Her body was found after a family member asked the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office to perform a welfare check. 

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