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Obici president: Hospital is open for business

The president of Sentara Obici Hospital on Wednesday dispelled rumors that the hospital is closed or full, and encouraged people to continue seeking care there.

Coleen Santa Ana also said hospital staff are grateful for the support they have received and encouraged people in the community to keep lifting hospital employees up in their thoughts and prayers and extending material support like providing a meal through MealTrain.

“We are open,” Santa Ana said. “We have not closed, and we don’t intend on going on diversion.”

Diversion would mean the hospital is no longer taking patients through the emergency department, Santa Ana said. It is rare for Sentara hospitals, and she said it is not in the plans for Obici. Sentara BelleHarbour, a freestanding emergency room and medical center on Bridge Road in North Suffolk, is also open for business, she said.

She did, however, say the hospital has more patients than usual. There are some patients sick with COVID-19, she said, although she declined to give an exact number. There are also patients who delayed care in the early days of the pandemic and now are sick with more acute issues.

Santa Ana said the number of COVID-19 patients at Obici has ebbed and flowed during the pandemic with the number in the region as a whole. As of Wednesday, 2,208 people in the Western Tidewater Health District had been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March. A quarter of those cases were reported in the last two weeks.

Statewide, 1,281 people are hospitalized with a positive COVID-19 test or pending results of such a test.

The hospital is taking extensive safety precautions, Santa Ana said, and she encouraged everyone to come for care.

“We want to highly encourage people to get their regular wellness care,” she said. “We really want them to prioritize their health. Delaying care sometimes makes it even more urgent for them down the road.”

Santa Ana said the staff has appreciated all of the cards and numerous other gestures made to support the hospital since March. She encouraged people to continue signing up for the MealTrain at www.mealtrain.com/trains/w13og0.

“We know we have this responsibility. That’s why we signed up for being in health care, and we take this very seriously,” Santa Ana said. “We know this is our role, but all that encouragement helps.”

Santa Ana also said people can help the hospital out just by wearing masks, social distancing and washing their hands frequently.

“The best way to not overwhelm the hospital is by stopping the spread,” she said.