UNC Health Southeastern at maximum capacity; asking patients to seek alternatives

People asked to seek nonemergency care at clinics, with personal physicians

Staff report


LUMBERTON — All staffed beds at UNC Health Southeastern’s medical center are occupied and patients seeking admission are facing delays, health care system officials said Wednesday.

As a result of the hospital being at maximum capacity, UNC Health Southeastern leaders are urging members of the public to visit their family physician or use local clinics for all health conditions not requiring emergency care.

“We are urging our community to evaluate their health care needs to determine the most appropriate place from which to seek care at this time,” said Jason Cox, UNC Health Southeastern vice president and chief operating officer. “Persons with true emergencies, such as trauma or chest pain, should not hesitate to come in for emergency care. Patients who do seek care from the emergency department will be treated in order of the seriousness of their condition. Individuals who seek emergency care for minor health issues will likely face extensive delays.”

The maximum capacity situation is a product of the pandemic, Cox said.

“We have 54 COVID patients in the hospital today on top of our normal load of patients,” he said Wednesday.

Forty-five patients are occupying 45 medical/surgical beds and nine in the Intensive Care Unit, Cox said.

“The emergency room has many COVID positive patients at any given time, but it fluctuates greatly,” Cox said.

To address the problem, the medical center has opened additional rooms, and ordered additional hospital beds and equipment, he said. However, the hospital has enough trained health care workers to provide essential care to patients.

“Models show the current problem will only escalate through late January and early February,” Cox said. “(We are) Asking everyone to seek alternatives to medical center unless experiencing medical emergency.”

Individuals who feel they may be sick and need to seek nonemergency medical care may visit a UNC Health Southeastern primary care or walk-in clinic, according to UNC Health Southeastern. The walk-in clinics include Southeastern Health Mall Clinic on the campus of Biggs Park Mall in Lumberton, Southeastern Multi-Specialty and Urgent Care Pembroke, and Southeastern Multi-Specialty and Urgent Care Whiteville.

For a complete clinic listing with hours and phone numbers, log on to www.southeasternhealth.org