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Inova officials explain what recent state of emergency declaration means for Alexandria

In a City Council meeting last night, Inova Alexandria Hospital and local health officials shared a look at the current COVID-19 situation in the hospital and what the state of emergency declaration means for the city.

Inova Alexandria Hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal told the City Council that the hospital is prepared for any potential surge.

“The good news is, if there is good news, is that we’ve been dealing with this for 22 months so we’re well versed with handling another surge of Covid,” Bansal said. “While we are extremely busy, we’re well within our capacity from a bed perspective as well as a resource perspective. We are actively planning for any surges that we may see in the next few weeks, as noted in the predicted models.”

Bansal said the emergency declaration from Gov. Ralph Northam gave the hospital more flexibility to tackle any upswing in hospitalizations:

That’s why the emergency that was recently issued by the governor is key. It’s key from an in-patient perspective because it allows us to increase our licensed bed capacity beyond our current license, work in staffing ratios that may not be what we do right now, and it allows vaccinations to be given by any healthcare provider which increases our ability to provide vaccinations in this community and telehealth services, which allows increased access to our patients within Virginia and in Maryland if they were previously our patients. It allows us to use providers licensed in other states to provide are.

Bansal acknowledged that staffing has been a challenge at the hospital.

The hospital has reverted to earlier visitation restrictions and Bansal said the majority of patients being hospitalized are unvaccinated ones.

“The sicker patients are the unvaccinated patients,” Bansal said, “and if you look at it proportionally the unvaccinated patients are the ones getting admitted to the hospital.”

Inova Alexandria Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Riddy also noted that the hospital is critically short on blood, and will be holding blood drives on January 25 and 27.

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