Alabama rural hospitals preparing for COVID-19 patients

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT)– Hospitals nationwide are preparing for the looming coronavirus threat.

While there are still no confirmed cases in Alabama, smaller hospitals that serve the rural parts of the state are getting ready.

Most recently, Cullman Regional announced they would be limiting visitors. The restrictions posted on their website include:

  • No visitors under the age of 16, even when an adult is with them. With exceptions for extraordinary circumstances which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • No more than two visitors at a time per room.
  • Visitors will be required to sanitize hands when entering the hospital and when entering and exiting any patient rooms.
  • Anyone who has a fever, cough, body aches or sore throat should stay away from the facility unless they are seeking treatment.

Cullman Regional also has a plan ready in case they have a coronavirus patient. In an update on their website, they say they are coordinating with the Alabama Department of Public Health to stay prepared.

“We have developed processes to properly screen and isolate individuals who present to our hospital and who meet the CDC criteria for the virus,” the plan reads.

Other precautions include implementing a triage/screening in the emergency department and other associated clinics.

CBS 42 spoke on the phone with Brookwood Baptist Health about precautions they are taking at their smaller clinics in rural areas.

They told us they are also following ADPH and CDC guidelines to properly handle any cases.

CBS 42 met up with Dr. Albert White at DCH Tuscaloosa to talk about how they are preparing.

“Since we’ve heard about this, we’ve been ramping up our defenses to deal with it,” Dr. White says.

Amid national stories that highlight some more rural hospitals in other states running out of equipment and protective gear, DCH Tuscaloosa says that’s not an issue for them.

Walking down the halls of the hospital, Dr. White pointed out several stations with masks, gowns, and gloves fully stocked.

DCH also says they have educated their staff in case a COVID-19 patient comes in.

Like all other hospitals following ADPH and CDC guidelines, DCH has a triage plan in place.

According to doctors at UAB, anyone who believes they may have coronavirus should contact their doctor first before going into the hospital.

Currently, most hospitals and county health departments are not able to test for COVID-19. All testing must be sent to the state or to private organizations for confirmation of the virus.


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