COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Six major health systems from across the metro Atlanta area came together as the healthcare community across the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jan. 21 will mark two years since the first positive COVID-19 patient in the US. 

The healthcare community is currently battling the fifth wave of the pandemic, fueled by the omicron variant.

Dr. Robert Jansen, Chief Medical Officer and Chief of Staff Grady Health System says, “there are people saying it’s getting better; we haven’t seen that at Grady.”

The length of hospital stay with the delta variant was 8.5 days, that number has decreased to 5.5 days with the omicron variant, according to Dr. Jayn Morgan, the Executive Director of the COVID-19 task force for Piedmont Healthcare.

But the population being affected the most is children. Georgia ranks 15th in the nation when it comes to COVID-19 cases among children. 

“The number of children who are being admitted for hospitalizations are becoming younger and younger, especially during the omicron surge and this directly reflects the fact that these children are unable to be vaccinated … We need to do everything that we can, coming together as a community we need to protect our most vulnerable, our children.”

Dr. Andi Shane – Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta

Like many other industries, healthcare is continuing to experience staffing shortages. That combined with overcrowded hospitals, professionals urge patients to not use emergency rooms for routine COVID 19 testing.

“This is real this has been an overwhelming peak, on top of an already overwhelmed staff”

Dr. Robert Jansen – Chief Medical Officer and Chief of Staff Grady Health System 

Although hospitals and emergency rooms are crowded, Jessica Roberts, the Senior Communications Specialist at Piedmont Columbus Regional tells News 3, they don’t want that to keep those in need from seeking medical attention.

While many of our hospitals are near capacity, we ask all patients who need medical attention to seek care without delay. As COVID numbers rise in Georgia and in our hospitals, we encourage everyone who is eligible to receive their COVID vaccine and COVID boosters, as well as practice the behaviors that reduce the spread of infection: wash your hands, watch your distance and wear a mask.

Jessica Roberts – Senior Communications Specialist at Piedmont Columbus Regional

Locally St. Francis – Emory Healthcare tells News 3 they are currently caring for 49 positive COVID-19 patients. Of those patients, slightly less than 50-percent are unvaccinated. 

Director of Communications at St. Francis, Grant Farrimond tells News 3, that although nationwide trends are skewing younger, St. Francis-Emory Healthcare has consistently cared for older COVID 19 patients throughout the pandemic. Currently, their positive COVID-19 patients ages range between 21 and 93.