KEYSER, W.Va. — WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital has treated more COVID-19 patients of late than at the beginning of the pandemic, said Mark Boucot, the hospital’s president and CEO.

The hospital said via social media last week that it had opened an incident command center in response to the growing number of Mineral County cases. Activated in emergency situations, Boucot said Friday in an emailed statement that the center “provides a centralized source for communication and resource management.”

As of Monday morning, Mineral County reported the worst recent COVID-19 trends in the state. Per the state Department of Health and Human Resource’s color-coded map that tracks daily conditions statewide over a seven-day rolling window, the county is solidly in “red” status, with an infection rate of 132.39 per 100,000 and a percent positivity of 9.44%. The county reported 589 total cases Sunday night, 261 of which were active.

Boucot said Potomac Valley Hospital is classified as a critical access hospital — a small, rural hospital with an average stay duration of 96 hours that serves communities located far from larger facilities — and as such is licensed for 25 beds. As of Friday, Boucot said, all the hospital’s ICU beds were occupied, though he noted that that will change as patients are discharged and admitted. As of Monday morning, most of the hospital’s ICU was reportedly near capacity.

As the county’s numbers have gradually increased, so, too, has the volume of patients treated for COVID-19 at the hospital, Boucot said.

“The Emergency Department has seen a significant increase in the number of patients presenting to be seen in the last week, probably around 10 or 12 patients a day coming in with COVID-19 symptoms,” Boucot wrote. “We are performing more helicopter transfers of patients to Ruby Memorial Hospital as well. In the early stages of the pandemic, we saw a few patients a week presenting with COVID-19 symptoms.”

They have also had some near-misses of late, Boucot wrote.

“Earlier this week, we did have a moment where we experienced a rapid influx of COVID-19 patients within our emergency department and a very low availability of inpatient beds,” Boucot wrote. “Thanks to our effective emergency management, we were able to mitigate the situation rather quickly.”

The hospital has been fortunate thus far in terms of how the disease has affected staff, Boucot said.

“Like all other hospitals in the area we have had employees that are in quarantine because they have either tested positive or have been around someone who has tested positive,” he wrote. “At this time this is only affecting about 3% of our employees. PVH is able to adequately staff all of its beds at this time and it’s not on a reduced schedule due to employees being out.”

Statistics for the rest of the WVU Medicine system were not immediately available.

Lindsay Renner-Wood is a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News, covering West Virginia and more. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayRenWood.

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