Add State Representative Maria Perez of Milford to the growing list of people concerned with New Hampshire hospitals’ ability to properly accommodate patients due to the rising COVID-19 cases across the state.
Perez, who says she went to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center last week because of a concern over low blood sugar caused by Lyme disease, described a distressing situation. “(There are) no rooms and not enough nurses to help everyone,” she told NHLatinoNews.com.
Perez says she had a “horrible” experience on a bed parked in the hospital’s hallway because of the lack of rooms due to the “overwhelming” number of patients treated for COVID-19.
She shared pictures of her experience on Twitter, calling out Governor Chris Sununu for what she called a “very sad” situation. The social media post published on September 1 has been taken down.
Perez said she heard one patient say they had been waiting for four hours in the hallway and had no one to check on them. “I’m having a lot of pain,” Perez recalls the patient saying. “The nurses say they have a lot of patients and not enough help,” she continued.
“Hospitals just seem short on help, full, and exhausted,” said Carlos Cardona, Chairman of the Laconia City Democrats. Cardona told NHLatinoNews.com that his mother had gone to Concord Hospital – Laconia a week ago, and similarly, a friend did the same two weeks ago in Manchester – both reported “having to wait in the hallways on a hospital bed.”
Cardona, like Pérez, is critical of Sununu, who was recently released from Portsmouth Hospital after tests confirmed a bleeding ulcer was the cause of his flu-like symptoms.
”So the Governor traveled to see Mitch and all the sudden is admitted to the hospital meanwhile granite staters have to wait in the hallways of hospitals to get treated,” Cardona wrote on Twitter.
These types of concerns are not isolated events. For example, late last month, officials with the New Hampshire Hospital Association told WMUR capacity continues to be a concern at facilities across the state.
“We just have to do everything we can to prevent what we’re seeing in other parts of the country where hospital systems are literally being overwhelmed,” said Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association. “And again, the best way for us to do that, to protect our loved ones, to protect our families, is to get that COVID-19 vaccine.”
Dawn Fernald, SVP, Marketing and Communications with Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, says the problem isn’t just an increase of COVID-19 patients. “What’s happening now is a staffing shortage,” Fernald said. Not enough nurses, not enough rooms are creating a bottleneck that often keeps patients like State Representative Perez waiting in the hallways.
“While we have seen an increase in COVID positive patients recently, our facility has not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 specific patients,” said Marci DeCarli, Community Affairs Director for Concord Hospital – Laconia. “Currently, we have 6 COVID positive patients in the hospital on the Laconia campus.”
Fernald says the hospital is working to mitigate the problem state health officials said this week; there are 141 current hospitalizations for COVID-19 in New Hampshire, the most since February. They said the highly contagious delta variant is driving numbers up, and the vast majority of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
“We are preparing the best we can,” says Fernald about the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter months. “What’s different now (versus a year ago) is that we have PPEs (personal protective equipment) and an experienced staff working through it.”
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