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AU Health to step up COVID-19 vaccine plans and treatments

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Augusta University Health has 44 COVID-19 patients who are on a ventilator. That’s close to an all-time high for them.

But they tell us they work to step up vaccine plans and treatment options.

For nearly three weeks, hospitalization numbers are at record highs. This morning, AU Health started off with a growing number of patients on the ventilator.

“With the increase in cases though- obviously we will have more critically ill patients,” Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer, said.

And it’s not that the virus is more severe, Coule says, it’s that the number of patients and very sick patients that call for many more resources.

“A nurse can only take care of one patient because they’re so critically ill,” he said.

So, AU is ramping up its monoclonal antibody therapy program, moving it to the first floor of their main hospital to double the number of patients they can treat.

“We appear to be very successful in reducing the number of people that require admission to the hospital by using it,” Coule said.

AU is looking at trying to treat even more patients, as they are breaching max capacity now with 18 patients a day.

The hospital is also eyeing the start of public vaccinations and plans to use a second building for its first clinics.

“At least early on, we are going to leverage the very successful location we’ve currently been operating,” Coule said.

The clinic is currently on the first floor of Professional Building 1. It’s where they vaccinated healthcare staff. Hospital officials expect they can easily vaccinate at least 500 to 1,000 people a day.

“On the Georgia side, we are ready to go. We are able to do it now. The only hold up is allocation and availability of the vaccine,” Coule said.

AU is waiting on approvals to start a vaccination clinic in Aiken County as well. But as the vaccine rollout struggles, health officials are still calling on the public to act.

“If we wear masks and watch our distance, and get people vaccinated- I think we will see the potential of this to come down sometime soon,” Coule said.

AU Health says they are still evaluating where that vaccination site will be located in Aiken County.

Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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