Regional Medical Center preparing for COVID-19 Thanksgiving surge

Rural hospitals prepare for surge

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hospitals across the state are expecting a COVID-19 Thanksgiving surge in the next few days.

Regional Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Raul Magadia, said the hospital has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients in the last few weeks. He said the hospital had a slow start when it came to seeing positive COVID patients, but now they are seeing cases daily.

“As a county, we were good until maybe June or July,” Dr. Magadia said. “Then, literally the flood gates opened and we have been busy every since.”

Dr. Magadia said the hospital is admitting about five to six new COVID-19 patients a day.

“We are thinking that we might get eight to ten admissions a day with the Thanksgiving surge,” Magadia said.

The hospital has two COVID-19 wings open right now. Combined, the two areas can house 44 patients. Dr. Magadia said the hospital currently has around 40 patients and that seven need ICU care.

“We have three or four beds available, but once we get 10 more patients, we could re-open COVID three,” he said.

Covid three is another COVID-19 area that the hospital can open if they see a Thanksgiving surge. It has more than 25 additional beds.

“It’s a closed floor,” Magadia said. “It is not operational, but we can open it at a moments notice. The problem though is nursing staff.”

Dr. Magadia said RMC is down nurses, a problem that hospitals across the country are dealing with. He said the hospital is not short on PPE.

“Majority people that we have now, especially during night shift , they are from all over the place because we have a lot of nursing leaving us now,” he said.

But even with a lack of nurses, he said the hospital is still prepared for more cases.

“We have gotten really efficient in stabilizing patients and getting them discharged safely. We have a great team,” Magadia said.

Dr. Magadia said one problem hospitals in rural areas face is that sometimes people in rural communities can be more reluctant to seek help. He said this can be good and bad, but sometimes it makes it more difficult if the patients have COVID-19.

“What we see people are doing is they kind of hunker down at home,” Magadia said. “They try and tough it out two or three days and when they are really sick to the point that they can not deal with it anymore, they come to the emergency room. So by the time we get to see them, they are in the late stages and sometimes it is hard to deal with.”

Dr. Magadia said the hospital is still encouraging patients to come to the emergency room in emergency situations, but if it isn’t an emergency, he said to contact a primary care doctors before coming in.

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