Alabama health officials say hospitals at ‘tipping point’ as cases surge

Coronavirus

Alabama – Hospitals across the state are at a tipping point according to the Alabama Hospital Association. Officials are now calling the situation ‘dire’ as they try to keep up with the continued surge of COVID-19 inpatients. Many hospitals are now trying to use outside resources to fight the virus.

There are 2,873 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state; the state has 1,537 staffed ICU beds and there are 84 more ICU patients than that. But Hospital Association officials say space isn’t the issue, it’s having enough people to be at the bedside.

“We’re at a tipping point and we really have been teetering on that tipping point for several days now,” said Danne Howard, Alabama Hospital Association Deputy Director.

ICUs are maxed out. Hospitals reporting more than 50 percent of ICU patients are being treated for COVID-19. And they need more staff to treat them. Howard says cases keep rising. It’s an alarming trend in the state.

“We have more in intensive care units than we have since the beginning of the pandemic all at one time and that is just putting additional stress on an already stressed environment,” Howard stated.

The president of Decatur-Morgan Hospital shared Monday what she fears could be coming.

“As we move forward in this crisis, there’s not enough healthcare providers, there’s not enough beds, there’s not enough physicians for where we’re headed with this… At what point is there decisions made between who gets to live and who dies,” said Kelli Powers, Decatur-Morgan Hospital President.

“It is dire, it is serious, and I guess that the best thing we can say is [that] we’re doing everything we can to prepare so that those types of decisions aren’t put on the table,” Howard said.

Howard says the Hospital Association is trying to find a solution, working with the Governor’s office, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and other agencies.

“[We’re] try[ing] to come up with some alternative resources for staffing, bring in some additional staffing from out of state,” Howard explained. “We have more than a dozen hospitals who have submitted paperwork for federal assistance teams.”

But now those resources that were already stretched thin are even more scarce in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
Howard is asking Alabamians to heed health officials’ warnings and to take stock of their behavior as health officials battle the surge.

Howard asks people to avoid large gatherings, to wear masks, and consider getting the vaccine. To those who test positive for COVID-19, Howard recommends talking to their doctor about monoclonal antibodies, a treatment she says is helping to keep people from needing to be hospitalized.

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