BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — UAB Hospital has seen a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 patients over the last few days and it’s leading to concerns about medical supplies.
As of Thursday, the hospital had at least 62 coronavirus patients, an increase of 59 since Sunday. Dr. Sarah Nafziger, co-chair of UAB’s Emergency Management Committee, estimates that 70% of those patients are on ventilators. She said the hospital has an adequate supply of those right now, but they’re monitoring the situation for the future.
“This is a number that we’re watching closely and managing closely,” Nafziger said. “We’re looking at alternate sources to provide additional ventilators, if that’s needed, and working with our community partners to share resources.”
Before the pandemic hit, the hospital was already facing a shortage of N95 masks, isolation gowns, face shields and goggles. Now, they’re also low on hand sanitizer and the nasal swabs they use to test for the virus.
“So we’re just trying to keep up with the shortages as they occur and trying to make sure that we stay ahead of it so that we have the supplies we need to adequately take care of our patients,” Nafziger said.
UAB is taking measures to conserve supplies and the hospital is delaying elective care now to open capacity for patients dealing with the coronavirus. They’re also working with other hospitals in an effort coordinated by the Alabama Hospital Association and the Alabama Department of Public Health to make sure every hospital in the state has access to the resources they needs.
“We anticipate that every hospital in Alabama is going to be needed to fight this pandemic,” Nafziger said. “It’s not going to be just the hospitals in the urban areas. We are all going to be a part of this fight to take care of our patients as we move through this unprecedented challenge.”
UAB is also accepting donations of personal protective equipment (PPE). They need N95 masks, surgical masks, isolation gowns, gloves and face shields. They are not accepting homemade products. They say that must be commercially manufactured, new and unopened. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 801 5th Ave. S.
For questions, contact the Jefferson County Department of Health at 205-254-2550.
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