Four additional beds were opened at Cheshire Medical Center for inpatients with COVID-19, an official said Tuesday after Keene Hospital canceled all non-urgent procedures last week to make room.
According to President and CEO Dr. Don Caruso, however, this is just a dent in the needs of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health subsidiary.
“That won’t be enough in the future, so let’s see what else we can do to make more beds available,” he said. “The task force is currently considering all options.”
Caruso said this group has not yet made any decisions and that there is no set time frame when they plan to do so.
As of Tuesday morning, Cheshire Medical had 17 inpatients for COVID-19, according to Caruso, compared with 15 reported last Wednesday. Of these, at least seven required intensive treatment like high oxygen flow or a ventilator, said Dr. Aalok Khole, an infectious disease doctor in the hospital.
Caruso and Khole did not know how many patients were waiting for beds in the emergency room, but last Tuesday the hospital reported that six people were in the situation.
Cheshire Medical continues to see an increase in the percentage positivity rate, with the proportion of COVID-19 tests being positive.
For the week that ended December 2, the latest available data from Cheshire Medical Hospital reported a rate of 20.1 percent, compared to the previous week when it was 19 percent.
These courses climbed faster in mid-November. The hospital recorded a rate of 16.1 percent for the week ending November 18, almost twice the rate it was the week before.
However, that does not mean that prices will stabilize, according to Khole and Caruso.
“We can always be hopeful, but with the way things have gone over the past week and the nation, with another holiday coming up … I wouldn’t be surprised if we see these rates through January,” said Khole.
Doctors urged people to continue COVID-19 safety measures such as wearing a mask in public, staying home when sick and washing their hands frequently, especially as New Hampshire has the highest case numbers to date.
The state hit a new high on Sunday, with an average of 1,281 new COVID-19 cases reported in the past seven days, according to the state health department. That number fell slightly to 1,223 on Monday, the latest data available, but that’s still a 41 percent increase from the peak of the COVID-19 surge in New Hampshire last winter.
Those who haven’t are also encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, according to Khole the best way to protect yourself and others from the viral disease.
Thirteen COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the week ending December 2, according to the hospital on Tuesday. Of these, eight were not vaccinated and two were fully vaccinated. The hospital did not know the vaccination status of the other three patients.
“There are more people entering the hospital who are unvaccinated,” said Khole, “and definitely those who need higher levels of care, are in intensive care, or are dying are unvaccinated.”
To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot, visit impfstoffe.nh.gov or call the state helpline at 2-1-1.