ATLANTA — Six major health systems across metro Atlanta released a joint statement Wednesday as COVID cases continue to surge across Georgia.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, Northeast Georgia Health System, Piedmont Healthcare and Wellstar Health System said they are all experiencing a rise in COVID symptoms and diagnoses among adults and children.
Collectively, the release stated, all of the health care systems have already experienced a 100 to 200% increase in COVID hospitalizations in the past eight days, with the majority of patients being unvaccinated.
Additionally, the release said the health care systems are preparing for an influx of patients with seasonal flu.
As the delta and omicron variants continue to spread, the hospitals said their emergency rooms have increased significantly for both "emergent and non-emergent situations," including those seeking COVID testing without needing further care or treatment.
"To keep emergency rooms available to individuals who have the most critical health needs, individuals should obtain care at the most appropriate medical facility for their condition and seek COVID-19 testing at primary care locations, public health and mass testing sites or use at-home testing kits," the hospitals wrote in the statement.
Here are some other ways the hospitals said the public can help:
- Get vaccinated and obtain a COVID booster when eligible. Additionally, the hospitals said to get the flu shot.
- Go to the "most appropriate medical facility" for your condition. The health systems said emergency rooms are for those seeking exams and treatment for medical emergencies, not for routine COVID testing or mild symptoms.
- Only call 911 when it's a "true emergency." The hospitals said local 911 operators and EMTs are getting overwhelmed with calls. They said to call your medical provider if you need additional medical guidance.
- Use at-home testing kits, public health testing locations or independent testing facilities if you need to be treated for COVID. On Wednesday, Georgia's Department of Public Health (DPH) also urged Georgians not to go to the hospital for COVID testing. To find a COVID testing location near you, click here.
- If you are diagnosed with COVID, consult your medical provider for treatment options.
- Continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the DPH. Continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.
- Lastly, the health systems said to anticipate increased wait times for medical services. "Due to the influx of patients and increased demands placed on our health care workforce, we ask everyone who enters our facilities to practice patience and kindness with each other and with our care team members who are providing expert, compassionate care."
The hospitals said the health and safety of their patients remain their top priority. They will continue to work together to educate and inform the public regarding COVID and address critical health needs impacting the area.
"We also would like to express our appreciation to the Governor for his support of our workforce and the newly announced funding to address staffing shortages at hospitals across the state due to COVID-19, and to the Georgia Department of Public Health for continued outreach to the public regarding issues affecting our patients, care team members and community," the health systems wrote.