Metro hospitals report overflowing COVID-19 cases, treating patients in hallways and ambulances

ATLANTA — Metro Atlanta hospitals say they are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients this week.

One of those hospitals says half their beds are COVID-19 patients. Another says they are being forced to put beds in hallways.

Grady Memorial Hospital medical director Dr. Robert Jansen told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray that for months he’s been warning if people did not avoid gatherings dark days were ahead.

He says we are now in those darkest days.

In a blunt warning in an email to the community, Jansen said “Grady is full.”

“What that really means is that we have a patient for every bed we have available on the medical and surgical floors,” Jansen said.

And it’s not just Grady.

The White House COVID-19 Task Force report for Georgia this week says with “dramatic increases in hospitalizations, Georgia is in full pandemic resurgence.”

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Robert Page is one of those statistics, having to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance.

“I couldn’t get any air into my lungs, you know? I was kind of gasping,” Page said.

At Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Hall County, they told Gray that every ICU bed was full on Thursday. They are at 200% ICU capacity and patients are even being placed in the rehab gym.

“We are having to treat patients in the hallways and also in the ambulances,” said Dr. Deepak Aggarwal with Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Emory University infectious disease director Carlos del Rio said this week is a critical moment in the pandemic.

“The data shows that if 95% of Americans would start wearing a mask today and would do so for the next 100 days, we could stop transmission of the virus before the vaccine kicks in,” del Rio said.

Gray contacted hospitals across metro Atlanta. Emory University Hospital said they have more COVID-19 patients than at any point in the pandemic.

Northside Hospital said it has seen a 350% increase in COVID-19 patients the past two months and that COVID-19 patients account for nearly half the beds in the hospital.

“Is there a number where we can say this is as many as we can handle?” Gray asked Jansen.

The unfortunate thing is you can’t close your doors,” Jansen said.

“We truly are in the darkest days,” Aggarwal said.

The state has set up an overflow facility at Georgia World Congress Center. That site has 60 beds and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency said there are 43 patients currently being treated there.