If needed, are Birmingham hospitals prepared for coronavirus patients?

Being prepared for coronavirus: Is Alabama ready?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - COVID-19 patients may not be coming to Anniston, but what if patients end up coming to other parts of the state. Would the Birmingham area ready?

“Preparations are well under way and are going very well right now that we could hopefully handle anything that comes our way,” says Jefferson County Department of Health’s Medical Director Dr. Wesley Willeford.

Dr. Willeford says they’ve had time to get area hospitals ready and equipped with supplies like respirators, goggles and gowns.

“The types of rooms that are recommended we call airborne-isolation rooms or negative-pressure rooms where air is pulled into the room, it doesn’t go out of the room,” says Willeford.

We asked him if someone unknowingly has the virus, transmits it to other people, and we wake up tomorrow with 10 cases, would we be prepared?

“I think certainly in that scenario the preparations would be available. The other thing too is that a lot of the large hospital systems have contingency plans in the event that large amount of people come through. So other mechanisms are being able to take care of such patients and that could include tents, but again, that’s a very extreme scenario,” says Willeford.

They’re still monitoring the situation closely, but at the same time, he says they’re still seeing high circulating levels of the flu virus and stresses everyone take caution and get your flu shot.

“If we were to ever see high-level activity of this virus in the United States, the last thing we want to do is have two things going on at once. If we can cut down our numbers of flu as much as possible, that’s what to go for,” said Willeford.

They also have a communication network called the Health Action Network, which provides an avenue for communication between all the larger medical systems in the area where they can share resources, share information and coordinate responses if there is an outbreak.

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