News

Meritus Medical Center has the most COVID hospitalizations in Maryland

On Thursday, Meritus Medical Center posted the highest number of COVID-19 positive patients of any hospital in Maryland, according to Meritus Health on Friday.

The hospital near Hagerstown had 66 COVID-19 positive patients on Thursday. Hospitals report that data daily to the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

"Our region’s positivity rate is close to 15%, as compared to Maryland’s overall positivity rate of about 4%,” Meritus Health President and CEO Maulik Joshi said in a news release issued Friday. “We continue to see a high level of transmission in the county, which has kept our COVID-19 hospitalization numbers high for several weeks now and moving in the wrong direction.”

But more Washington County residents also are being vaccinated, according to the release, which noted that "the eligible percentage of the population now fully vaccinated ... sits just below 60%. At the state level, this percentage is more than 76%."

Washington County's Joint Information Center reported Friday that nearly half the county's total population has been fully vaccinated, and 52% of the total population has had at least one shot. Only those 12 and older are currently eligible for vaccinations in Maryland.

The Joint Information Center also reported Washington County's positivity rate, the rate at which people being tested for the virus are testing positive, is just above 10%. Three more deaths had been reported since Thursday, bringing the total number of COVID-related deaths to 372, and 94 new cases had been reported since Thursday.

Hospital officials suggested Washington County's transmission numbers could be affected by the county's proximity to "the populations of nearby counties in other states," noting that data tracked on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website lists Franklin County, Pa., with almost 52% fully vaccinated and Fulton County, Pa., at a much lower 34%. Berkeley County, W.Va., had a vaccination rate of 40%, according to the CDC, and Jefferson County, W.Va., was at 36.5%.

Residents of all these counties are Included in Meritus Medical Center’s annual 70,000 emergency department visits and 16,000 hospital admissions, according to the news release.

“The low vaccination rates in our region relate directly to the number of COVID-19 patients we are seeing,” Joshi said. “As of Thursday, none of our patients with COVID in our intensive care unit are vaccinated and none of the COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators are vaccinated against the virus.”

Meritus and other hospitals across Maryland and the country have documented that trend.

“We continue to provide COVID-19 screening and testing at our drive-thru center, which has been open uninterrupted since March 2020, to help people know their status, follow up with their physicians and quarantine when necessary,” Joshi said, adding that Meritus will soon have conducted 200,000 COVID-19 tests.

“Our health care heroes are resilient” despite the continuing pandemic, Joshi said.

“This is really no longer about educating or convincing others to do the right thing, but about doing it — getting vaccinated for COVID-19,” he added. “Our providers and staff deserve the community’s support and (to) have everyone do their part by getting the shot.”

This article originally published in The Herald-Mail and online at Herald-Mail Media.com in October 2021.