MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) – As the number of new COVID-19 infections continue to surge in Alabama, hospitals are feeling the strain on resources and staffing.
“So, everything is heading in the direction of increasing spread and increasing cases,” said President of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Don Williamson.
According to the Alabama Hospital Association, there are currently just 99 ICU beds open statewide and that number is decreasing.
Plus, 42% of all ICU patients are infected with COVID-19.
“We have hospitals that have already terminated, elective, non-emergency procedures. We’ve got hospitals that are holding people in their ER’s for hours waiting to find a space for them upstairs in the ICU on one of their regular floors,” Williamson said.
And with case numbers growing, non-COVID-19 patients could soon be hard pressed to find hospital space.
“Substantially fewer beds available for people who have strokes, heart attacks, who have auto accidents, who’s child falls out of a tree and breaks a limb,” Williamson said.
And stretched capacity, in turn, puts a strain on hospital staffing already hit hard by the pandemic.
“COVID patients take more staff than non-COVID patients. So, every time we have to divert staff to take care of non-COVID patients, there are fewer staff to take care of the usual catastrophizes of life,” Williamson said.
Dr. Williamson believes the next three weeks will see a surge in COVID-19 patients statewide that will reach and likely surpass hospitalizations at the beginning of the year before a vaccine was available.