East Alabama COVID hospitalizations double since Christmas, ER’s see historic numbers


OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Another COVID surge is hitting east Alabama Health as the hospital system reports historic visits to their Emergency Rooms in Lee and Chambers County. At the same time, COVID hospitalizations have doubled since Christmas day.

“Over the holiday, we have definitely seen a big surge in the number of cases in our Emergency Departments, in all three of our Emergency Departments. Including our Opelika Campus, our free-standing ER in Auburn, and also at our Valley campus at EAMC Lanier. We have also seen our COVID hospitalizations from around eight to eleven up to today, which is 21. So, there has been quite a change over the last several days,” said Brooke Bailey, East Alabama Health’s Director of Infection Prevention.

East Alabama Health urges the community only to visit their Emergency Departments when they need critical care. Monday, 163 of the 352 visits to East Alabama Health’s three Emergency Departments (EDs) were COVID-symptom related. East Alabama Health continues to have very sick patients seeking treatment at our EDs for non-COVID reasons. Adding the additional burden of mildly ill patients seeking COVID testing is overcrowding waiting rooms, possibly exposing more patients, and extending wait times significantly. On Monday, the average COVID positivity rate at East Alabama Health’s three Emergency Departments was 31%.

“Where our biggest concern is right now is through our Emergency Departments. We are seeing a record number of visits at all three of our ED’s over the last three days. That’s concerning because we want to make sure those who need critical care or emergency care can be seen and evaluated. So, we are encouraging those who are only needing a COVID test or want to know if they are COVID positive to please use other resources, not the ER,” said Bailey.

For now, the hospital system is not planning on opening up their testing site as staff is needed to care for patients. However, there are testing resources in the community, including urgent care, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and even at-home kits if you can find them.

“Because we are seeing this spread so rapidly, we feel like Omicron is here in our community and state. Vaccines are the number one thing we have to fight this virus. So if you have not been vaccinated, please continue to consider it. If you are fully vaccinated, get your booster,” said Bailey.

Due to east Alabama’s high COVID positivity rate, the hospital’s visitation level now sits at red. You can learn more about what that means for your family here: https://bit.ly/3eqSKKc

If you suspect you have COVID and have any of the more severe symptoms listed below, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) advises you to seek medical attention immediately:
• trouble breathing
• persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• new confusion
• inability to wake or stay awake
• bluish lips or face
ADPH also advises calling your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. https://www.eamc.org/news…/covid-update-december-27-2021

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