AL Hospital Association: No ICU beds available in Alabama

Dr. Scott Harris on strained healthcare system
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UPDATE from Alabama Hospital Association: Alabama is now negative 29 for ICU beds. That’s as of Wednesday, August 18, 2021.

The Alabama Hospital Association says the state has negative ICU beds. About half of the people in ICU beds have COVID-19. More than 2,731 people are in hospitals with COVID. Forty-one of them are children.

ICU level care is still taking place around the state, but hospitals are trying to find room to provide it.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said some patients are being taken care of in ‘makeshift’ rooms. He said hospitals are having to get very creative in order to care for emergency patients.

“That doesn’t mean they aren’t getting ICU level care. They are. But do to that, they’re taking up other parts of the hospital that would not normally be made into an ICU unit,” Dr. Don Williamson, president of the AHA said. Williamson says we’ve never been here before and that we’re in uncharted territory.

“What we’re working on right now is to try and sort out where there are scattered ICU’s around the state. We know in some of our major trauma centers, they’re going to have one or two or maybe a few others ICU beds being held for trauma,” Williamson said.

Dr. Harris also said one of the biggest issues is having enough staff in enough places to care for critical patients.

Williamson believes the dire ICU situation could have been prevented if more people got vaccinated.

“Only 12% of the patients who are in hospital today are fully vaccinated so as you’ve heard this could have been prevented had we gotten vaccination numbers to higher levels,” Williamson said.

Williamson says this is not a problem for COVID-19 patients alone.

“None of us know if we are going to have a stroke, a heart attack, automobile accident on the way home. Individuals who end up in the hospital will be taken care of. Let me very clear on that. But it may mean that instead of being whisked away to the ICU, you may find yourself being managed in the ER,” Williamson said.

Williamson tells us the state is good on ventilators and PPE for healthcare workers. The big question now is can health leaders expand bed capacity fast enough to meet the demand?

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