Georgia hospitals refuse to release COVID-19 hospitalization data amid surge

Hospitals in Columbus, Ga., have declined to release COVID-19 hospitalization data to the public, according to a Ledger-Enquirer report, even as available county-level data shows that hospitalizations doubled in the month of June.

Glenn Fussell, MD, a local physician, has been sounding the alarm about Columbus' COVID-19 cases through a Facebook post and told the newspaper that the "lack of accurate and meaningful data has been an issue in determining the true impact of the virus."

Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency shows that new cases are rising to their highest levels in the state, according to the report. The state health department's data is cumulative, beginning in April 27, and does not reflect the current number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The agency only records positive COVID-19 tests conducted after patients were hospitalized; it does not include people who tested positive and then went to the hospital.

The state health department's website says its data is "likely an underestimation of actual hospitalizations."

Hospitals in Columbus haven't exceeded ICU bed capacity, and when asked whether they would release hospitalization data, executives from Columbus-based hospitals refused to answer.

St. Francis Medical Center CEO Melody Trimble said: "We have known for several months now that COVID-19 would be part of our lives and our work for the foreseeable future. We are continuously monitoring the prevalence of the virus in our community and have adapted everything we do — in every department — to ensure we can safely treat patients with COVID-19 while we continue serving the vital health needs of our community."

St. Francis Medical Center did not reveal the number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and returned home. It said hospital capacity is "incredibly fluid and changes rapidly," according to marketing and communications director Becky Young.

Piedmont Healthcare has released aggregate numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations for its 11 hospitals in Georgia, but has not broken down the number of hospitalizations by hospital.

More articles on data analytics:
Tennessee's COVID-19 reporting system shuts down for 9 hours due to high volumes of data
Texas Medical Center hit 100% ICU bed occupancy, then didn't report data for 3 days
Arizona health department fails to report new COVID-19 case data amid surge due to lab delay

 

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