Frontline workers share concerns as ICU’s near capacity

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama is once again facing a record-breaking day of COVID-19 cases. Now, local hospitals are concerned with what the days and weeks ahead will look like as ICU beds fill fast.

Doctors say the current spike in cases is unrelated to the Thanksgiving holiday, meaning in the coming week, cases will continue to climb.

CBS 42’s Malique Rankin spoke with Robin Harris, a nurse practitioner at St. Vincent’s East. Robin said when she left her last shift on Sunday, they were out of beds.

“We were completely full,” Harris said. “We didn’t have ICU beds; we didn’t have medical beds. They’re pushing us to discharge.”

Harris said the short staffing is having an impact on patient care.

“When you have exhausted nurses, and they’re exhausted, overworked, then are our patients really getting the best care they could get,” Harris questioned.

At UAB Hospital, they share the same concerns. Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of UAB’s infectious diseases division, said in the coming weeks, she’s concerned the high number of COVID cases may compromise the hospital’s ability to provide care as we begin to see a post-Thanksgiving surge.

“Hospitals have the potential to be overwhelmed,” Marrazzo said. “And that means if you go to the ER, you could potentially be turned away.”

For the nurses and doctors on the frontlines of this pandemic, they will keep asking the community the same question: “We can be careful, but we are all at risk. Why not take the most careful precautions that you can,” asked Harris.

Harris said with the long shifts, short staff, and higher number of patients, she and her colleagues get through it by encouraging and helping each other,” Harris said. “We’re in the trenches together, we constantly build one another up, energy is contagious.”


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