Health leaders say RMC COVID units are at capacity, calling the situation ‘dire’

Local hospital overwhelmed with COVID patients

CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Hospitals across the country are overwhelmed with COVID patients, including some right here in Alabama.

Health care professionals in Calhoun County are calling the situation “dire.”

Dr. Almena Free did not mince words as she pleaded with the public to mask up and take other precautions against COVID-19. She said COVID units at RMC have consistently been at capacity and they’re taking drastic measures to treat patients.

“I cannot say to you all enough please, please wear your masks please I’m begging you,” Dr. Free said.

It has been a difficult week for RMC. On Tuesday, the hospital treated more than 80 COVID-19 patients. That number dropped to 68 on Thursday.

Dr. Free said all three COVID units remain at capacity, and as soon as patients are discharged, more are admitted.

“We were at a dire situation. We had people in the ER that were very, very sick. They have to stay in the ER. We had people in the hallways on the stretchers. This is not something that’s unusual to us; it’s happening all over the country. I’ve practiced 25 years. I have never seen anything like this in all my days,” Dr. Free explained.

With hospital resources stretched thin across the country, some hospitals are refusing care to some patients. EMS workers in Los Angeles County being told not to bring patients who are unlikely to survive because there is no room to treat them.

Dr. Free said we haven’t reached that level here, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

“We are talking with ethics committees, talking with other hospitals about what their roles are with choosing… or going down that path. Prayerfully, we’ve not reached that area yet,” Dr. Free said.

The Director of Marketing for RMC Health System said as of 3 p.m. Thursday, the hospital had 18 COVID-19 ICU level patients, and 12 of them were on ventilators.

Hospital leaders said they will continue to do everything they can to treat patients will all kinds of medical emergencies.

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