ANNISTON, Ala. (WIAT) — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise across East Alabama once again. Healthcare leaders are urging the public to get vaccinated and boosted as the Omicron variant spreads.
Just before Christmas, the Regional Medical Center in Anniston reported only caring for four COVID-positive patients. None of them were in the ICU or on a ventilator. Now, less than a month later, the hospital is caring for 43 COVID-positive patients. Of those patients, 29 are unvaccinated, 13 are vaccinated and one is partially vaccinated.
In an effort to keep up with the rising demand, RMS has brought on a few travel nurses to work alongside their team. The extra staffing is helping keep the emergency department open and running smoothly as well as allowing elective surgeries to stay on schedule.
“The only thing that they really ask is that you don’t come here for COVID testing alone, like if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 by a friend, family member, school or work, the Emergency Department is not the place to go for that. That’s a place you go to is your primary care physician. But RMC is certainly open for business, we are fully operational,” said Whitney Watson, a Nurse Practitioner at Regional Medical Center that works in the COVID ICU.
Watson also wants to encourage the community to make time to get vaccinated and boosted, as it strengthens your immunity against the new variant and greatly decreases your chances of being hospitalized.
“I only have just a couple of patients in the hospital who have received their booster dose. So if you’ve received your COVID vaccination early on in 2021 and it’s been more than 6 months from now, it’s time to think about a booster dose. The booster really amps up your immunity against this new variant. It increases your antibody count and it better allows you to fight off the new variants that we are dealing with now,” said Watson.