COVID patients taking emergency room beds as hospitalizations rise
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hospital COVID-19 units are filling up across the state as cases continue to rise.
As of August 4th, 2021, Regional Medical Center in Anniston had 30 people hospitalized with COVID-19, but their open COVID unit only has 22 beds. The other patients are still in the emergency room.
“Normal patient volumes are up and now we have a COVID influx on top of it,” RMC emergency room nurse manager Chris McGowan said. “It’s a separate area that has eight beds. Right now, we have seven patients in there that are COVID patients waiting for admission.”
McGowan said emergency room staff is helping take care of these patients, which means longer wait times for others.
“We do have some longer wait times,” he said. “Because, those eight beds could normally be any type of patient rather than specifically COVID patients.”
McGowan said E.R. wait times can be anywhere from three to four hours now, somedays longer.
“We don’t want you waiting for four plus hours to be seen, however, we do have to take care of the patients with strokes, heart attacks, and COVID patients that are having respiratory distress first.”
McGowan said they are seeing around 10 to 20 more patients daily compared to just a few months ago. He said because of that increase, it’s important to evaluate your emergency before heading in.
“If it’s not an emergency and it’s something your primary care doctor can handle, try to go that route,” McGowan said.
But, McGowan said the hospital is not turning anyone away and if you don’t know if it is a true emergency or not, just come to the emergency room in case.
RMC officials said out of the 30 COVID patients, 27 are unvaccinated and three are fully vaccinated. Ten patients are on ventilators as of August 4th.
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