Alabama hospitals remain stressed with COVID-19 patients

Hospitalizations continue to go up

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama’s Department of Public Health continues to track people in hospitals because of the coronavirus. That number is approaching 10,000 statewide putting the hospitals under stress to continue to meet services.

Numbers were improving, but then Monday those numbers increased. As of Tuesday, we’re at more than 80,000 confirmed cases and approaching 10,000 hospitalizations - including a new record number of 119 at UAB.

The Alabama public health department gets more than a hundred voluntary reports a day from hospitals across the state.

“They are reporting almost a record number of inpatients. I think the concern we have they will exceed their capacity because remember not everyone in the hospital is a COVID patient. The hospital is doing all the things they are doing anyway,” said Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

The demand on ICU beds has been high - there have been about 11% available over the last two weeks. All hospitals do have plans for dealing with a surge of cases, if the numbers continues to rise.

“They should be considering limits on elective procedures that would free up hospital beds and personal protective equipment if that is an issue for their particular hospital,” Harris said.

Converting space within the hospital is also an option. The last resort would be creating alternative pop-up hospitals with additional staff and equipment outside of the medical building.

Dr. Harris said hospitals have told him they may be stressed, but they have staffing to handle their COVID patient load and their regular patients.

“I think all hospitals are stressed. They are looking closely at what they can handle. I know there is staff out there that have been working for months that is really exhausted, but no one is turning anyone away,” Harris said.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.