NEW CASTLE – A surge in COVID hospitalizations over the last several weeks has Henry Community Health nearing capacity.

The Emergency Department has seen a 30% increase in patients over the last several weeks. While most patients are seeking treatment for COVID, the remaining have serious life-threatening issues.

“We have seen an influx of patients with chronic conditions who delayed seeing their primary care provider during the pandemic. Now, their previously controlled medical condition has become life-threatening,” Amanda Brookbank, ED Director, said.

With the Emergency Department admitting more patients, it has become necessary for HCH to postpone elective surgeries. The severity of illness has extended patients’ length of stay which has crippled bed availability.

“We evaluate on a daily basis to determine if we have beds available for elective surgeries,” Shelley Wilson, Chief Nursing Officer, said. “Over the last eight days, that answer has been no.”

Shortages in the health care workforce across the nation have posed additional challenges for hospitals and Henry Community Health is also feeling the strain. Adequate staffing is a limiting factor that we must manage on a daily basis.

“We are seeing much younger patients being hospitalized than with the previous surge in January,” Dr. Arun Tewari, HCH Chief Medical Officer said.

Currently, HCH has 18 COVID-positive patients and only two are vaccinated.

“We have seen breakthrough cases, but the majority of vaccinated patients are able to safely manage their symptoms at home,” Dr. Tewari said.

HCH encourages COVID positive patients who are managing their symptoms at home to make sure they are staying hydrated, deep breathing and changing positions every 30 minutes.

If you are experiencing COVID symptoms, free testing is available by registering online at If you are COVID positive and experiencing symptoms, contact your primary care


The best defense against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. You can also take other measures to mitigate the risk of exposure such as wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, and social distancing. Patients can walk-in to Immediate Care at Northfield Park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Information provided.

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