As One-Year Anniversary (March 7) of Virginia’s First Confirmed COVID-19 Patient Nears, a Look Back at How Our Hospitals Have Protected Virginians Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic
March 5, 2021
In the Past Year, Virginia Hospitals Have Treated and Discharged More Than 47,500 COVID-19 Patients, Added Nearly 3,700 Beds to Increase Treatment Capacity, Administered More Than 930,000 Vaccine Doses, and Continued to Provide Essential Care to all Virginians in Need
RICHMOND, VA – In the year since Virginia reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 at a U.S. Army base in Northern Virginia, hospitals and health systems across the Commonwealth have been on the frontlines treating patients while working with partners in local, state, and federal government, as well as other stakeholders, to combat this potentially deadly virus and protect public health.
The past year has been unlike anything we’ve encountered in recent memory – one filled with disruption to everyday life, economic upheaval, and many other challenges people have had to adapt to. Through it all, Virginia hospitals have been a steadying presence in our communities, providing life-saving care, critical health information to the public, and more recently supporting statewide vaccination efforts. Since the start of the pandemic, Virginia hospitals have:
- Treated and discharged more than 47,500 patients who contracted COVID-19 and required hospital care;
- Added nearly 3,700 beds to increase patient treatment capacity;
- Pursued effective strategies to boost testing and address shortages;
- Supported efforts to increase overall ventilator capacity in Virginia;
- Administered more than 930,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Virginians;
- Served as a national leader in the use of new treatments and therapeutics such as remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies;
- Adapted staffing models and developed innovative solutions to expand the health care workforce to serve patients; and
- Endured combined revenue losses exceeding $1.8 billion, partly due to a temporary halt on non-emergency scheduled procedures, and sharp declines in inpatient and emergency department volumes due to stay-at-home directives.
“The last year has tested hospitals and providers like never before,” said Carilion Clinic Chief Operating Officer Steve Arner, the Chairman of VHHA’s Board of Directors. “It’s been incredible to witness the resiliency, passion and dedication of the health care workforce driving care delivery across Virginia. While we wouldn’t wish to be in this situation, we appreciate that Virginia has a structurally-sound health care delivery system. We are fortunate to work alongside thousands of talented clinicians and health care workers whose dedication to patients is unparalleled.”
Added VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton: “Throughout these difficult times, the Commonwealth has weathered the storm through collaboration between government partners and stakeholders across the health care continuum. Despite being twelfth in overall population among states, Virginia has the sixth lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S., the ninth lowest rate of cases, the fourteenth lowest death rate, and is thirteenth among states in percentage of vaccine doses administered. These statistics speak to the effectiveness of Virginia’s pandemic response, which hospitals have supported every step of the way.”
During the early days of the pandemic, Virginia hospitals encountered challenges related to testing availability and adequacy. Facing shortages of testing equipment and concerns about coronavirus transmissibility, several hospitals established drive-through testing sites, while others developed their own testing processes to enhance testing access. Hospitals rapidly moved to increase treatment capacity by fast-tracking expansion projects, adding hospital beds, establishing field hospitals, and retrofitting or converting existing spaces to accommodate patient treatment needs. The interruption of traditional supply chains in the pandemic’s early days also required hospitals to find new sources for acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) then in short supply, and to develop innovative strategies to disinfect PPE for reuse. In the ensuing year, hospitals have implemented new safety protocols, increased the use of telehealth consultations to comply with social distancing standards while meeting patient care needs, incorporated new COVID-19 therapeutics (remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies) into patient treatment regimens, and since December 2020 have helped lead the way on vaccinations in Virginia.
Even as hospitals took extraordinary steps and made significant investments to confront the pandemic, their dedicated caregivers and team members also continued to provide care for patients in need of a wide range of non-COVID medical care needs in the midst of a global public health emergency. While people in many other professions transitioned to working at home, hospital-based providers dutifully reported for in-person work to render essential care to their fellow Virginians. During the pandemic, the Commonwealth has also benefited from Medicaid expansion, which has enabled more than 500,000 Virginians to gain health care coverage since 2019. This coverage means many more Virginians were able to access care when they needed it during the pandemic. Virginia hospitals continue to fund the state’s share of Medicaid expansion costs, amounting to hundreds of millions annually.
About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 26 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health. Its vision is through the power of collaboration to be recognized as a driving force behind making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
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