Hospital CEOs meeting with Gov. Kemp over state's fight against COVID-19

Hospital CEOs across the state met with Gov. Brian Kemp Wednesday afternoon to talk about the state's battle against COVID-19. The meeting focused on how hospitals are handling the crisis and where the state stands in the fight.

Almost every CEO in the meeting said staffing, specifically when it comes to registered nurses, is the number one issue they're facing.

They also said there's a concern about the rise in cases that triggered because of Thanksgiving.

Know how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting Georgia

"We just can't get the vaccine soon enough," said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System.

The CEOs said they are optimistic about a vaccine on the horizon, but first, they said getting through the surge in cases is necessary.

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"Everyone is concerned about the fact that it is increasing," said John Haupert, CEO of Grady Health System.

Kemp hosted the roundtable to get an update from those on the ground battling the virus.

"We have the space right now, but it's a continuous effort on the staffing," said Candice Saunders, president and CEO of Wellstar Health System.

The governor emphasized the need for the public to continue protecting themselves from the virus despite the news about a vaccine.

"We cannot take our foot off the gas just because we're going to have a vaccine in a couple weeks," Kemp said. "We got to continue to educate people that even with the vaccine coming out, it's going to take months to get that distributed."

Some hospitals said there is good news. Many CEOs said they're seeing few COVID-19 patients in the ICU and on ventilators. But many said they are seeing an increase in non-COVID patients which makes capacity in the hospital more concerning.

"While we're focused on caring for COVID individuals, we have to remember that non-COVID individuals have equally important issues," said Bryce Gartland, Emory's Hospital group president.

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