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UAB: Emergency Departments have more patients than they can comfortably care for

Hospital staffing issues
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 5:41 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2022 at 6:32 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Medical workers infected with COVID-19 are adding to the strain on the health care system.

That’s why UAB and other area hospitals are asking people to avoid emergency departments unless they have a life-threatening situation.

An unprecedented number of health care workers have tested positive for COVID and are therefore unable to be in hospitals to administer care to patients.

Doctors said we only started hearing about the Omicron variant about five or six weeks ago, but in this short period of time, there’s been a surge in COVID cases.

Nearly half of Alabama’s population remains unvaccinated, and hospitals are starting to see an influx of patients with the highly contagious Omicron variant.

More than 1,100 Alabamians are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Doctors at UAB said they’re dealing with more patients in each of their three emergency departments than they can comfortably take care of.

“We have more than two-and-a-half times as many patients than we can adequately take care of at any one time. So, obviously people who are coming can expect a wait to get seen. We have a number of employees who are out with COVID in our emergency departments and other places in the hospital,” said Vice Chair for Clinical Operations for the Department of Emergency Medicine at UAB, Dr. Bobby Lewis.

Doctors stressed that if you have a medical emergency, you should still go to the emergency room to be seen.

But if you need to get a COVID test, or if you are experiencing mild COVID symptoms, UAB doctors recommend seeing your primary care physician, scheduling a telecare visit, or going to an urgent care facility.

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