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UAB doctor: Please don’t come to ER for COVID test

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 12:42 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2021 at 2:15 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB hospital doctors have a strong message for people who are showing up to the emergency departments looking for a COVID test, please stop.

Doctors said people need to remember the ER is for emergencies.

UAB officials said hospitals all over Birmingham have seen record numbers of patients being admitted for COVID.

For UAB, doctors say they’ve seen this increase in the past 10 days.

At the hospital’s three emergency departments, a busy day is 400 to 450 patients.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021, 617 people showed up at UAB emergency departments.

While the hospital will see a person who shows up at the ER, doctors say the influx of people slows down treatment for people with legitimate emergencies, like heart attacks, strokes and trauma.

Bobby Lewis, M.D., DMD, vice chair for Clinical Operations for UAB’s Department of Emergency Medicine said you should visit an emergency room when, “Running high fevers, especially those that are hard to control. Persistent cough, especially a cough when you’re not coughing up particularly anything and obviously anyone who is short of breath is of concern because that’s been one of the things we’ve seen... shortness of breath, not terribly symptomatic, but shortness of breath especially with minimal exertion. All of those folks need to come see us.”

Dr. Lewis added that it’s tough to say when this COVID surge will peak.

He also stressed the need for vaccination.

At UAB, 97 percent of its COVID patients are not vaccinated.

If you don’t have an emergency, you’re encouraged to see your doctor or an urgent care center first.

Updated UAB Testing Site Holiday Closures: The UAB Medicine test site at Highlands parking deck holiday hours have been updated to help decrease the volume of patients in the Emergency Departments.

The site will now be open on December 31 from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. for employee and community testing.

The site will be closed on January 1 and will reopen for extended operations on Sunday, January 2.

The site will offer COVID testing from Sunday through Friday from 7:30 am to 2 pm. COVID vaccination will temporarily halt at the drive-through site and employees and patients may receive a COVID vaccine or booster in the following locations:

  • Injection Clinic in the former Regions Bank space from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday-Friday
  • Injection Clinic on the 2nd floor of The Kirklin Clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday
  • UAB Hospital Highlands injection clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday

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