OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – A disturbing trend in the fight against COVID-19 takes us to East Alabama Medical Center, where the hospital is handling a record high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a late-summer surge causes widespread illness.
EAMC health care heroes had hoped the worst of the pandemic was behind them. After weathering a peak of 54 COVID-19 hospitalizations on April 11, cases began to taper off. However, with the state opening back up, cases are surging. On Monday, July 20, EAMC reported 58 confirmed cases, setting a grim record for already weary healthcare workers.
“It’s a very stressful time for our staff. I think there is an overwhelming sense from our staff that we had gotten the worst of it behind us with the previous peak. Now we are seeing our units and ICU fill up again with very sick, COVID patients. I see what our staff goes through, especially the nurses. All of them are going above and beyond. I want the public to know what they are going through and appreciate them,” shared Dr. Michael Roberts, EAMC Chief of Staff.
The first peak back in April involved mostly elderly patients from nursing homes. Doctors are now seeing patients in their 30s die from COVID-19.EAMC is making room for an influx of sick patients, many of who are younger with common underlying medical conditions. This month three of the 12 deaths at EAMC were people under the age of 50.
“These risk factors include uncontrolled diabetes, obesity, or heart disease. These are widespread medical problems. I have heard this idea only the old and very sick are dying from this disease, and that’s not the case,” shared Dr. Roberts.
Meanwhile, well known east Alabama civil servants Senator Randy Price and Lee County Commissioner Johnny Lawrence are on ventilators inside EAMC’s ICU their families coveting prayers and urging mask-wearing.
Senator Price’s wife, Oline Price, shared this message with the public:
“I want to thank everyone for your continued prayers and words of support. Today, Randy was intubated to help him with his battle of Covid-19. This disease is one that I would not wish on anyone. I can not overstate the seriousness of this virus. It has tremendous negative effects on the human body. I encourage everyone to maintain social distancing, use hand sanitizer and continue to plead that everyone please wear a mask. This is something no one should have to watch a loved one go through and it is truly a pandemic. If anyone knows Randy personally, they know what a strong stubborn soul he is and how hard he is fighting this battle. Prayers for a cure for COVID 19 and to ALL of those that are battling this disease is what I ask for. This is not a political issue. This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue. We must do everything we can to slow the spread and work to eradicate this dangerous virus. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and employing vigorous hygiene is the only way we can be successful in protecting ourselves and others from this virus.”
EAMC is grateful for Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask mandate and is urging the community to social distance and stay away from large crowds, especially indoor gatherings, were widespread seems to be occurring.
“We have been on the record early for wearing masks in public to limit the spread. We feel like this is extremely important in areas where social distancing is not possible wearing a mask is a critical step,” shared Dr. Roberts.
Dr. Roberts says if you know a healthcare worker show them your support by protecting yourself and others by taking precautions. You can also drop off a meal, a bottle of hand sanitizer, Lysol, or wipes with a note. Dr. Roberts says the community’s support is vital for EAMC staff who continue fighting to save lives.