Hospital conditions improving, but patients may still see some delays

COVID-19 cases dropping but hospitals still struggling
COVID-19 cases dropping but hospitals still struggling
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hospitals across the state are slowly improving as COVID cases trend downwards, with now only a little more than 700 people admitted.

“We are moving back to a more normal environment,” Alabama Hospital Association president Dr. Don Williamson said. “We just aren’t there yet. I do think we are fortunately out of that window where the system was basically locked down, but I think we are going to be in for challenges with staffing for months.”

Williamson said survey results showed that hospitals are short more than 1,000 nurses right now, but state funds are supplying more than 250 traveling nurses.

“We’ve got a few here and more that are coming this week,” he said. “It is going to make a difference. It will allow some of our hospitals not to have to ask their staff to work so many extra shifts. It will facilitate moving some patients out of the ICU and freeing up some beds.”

ICU beds are already starting to become available, with latest data showing more than 165 open, but Williamson said there is still a chance you could not get one.

“That sounds like a lot, but it’s not evenly distributed across the state,” he said. “So, hospitals remain very busy.”

Williamson said a normal patient may still see long waits in the ER, but hospitals are now able to start non-emergent surgeries again.

“You might have to wait a little longer to get a transfer,” Williamson said. “I think you are going to see surgeries begin to return, especially the out patients first, then you’ll start seeing inpatient surgeries be re-added.”

Williamson said since cases are trending downwards, the need for monoclonal antibodies is less. The state is set to start receiving more of the treatment after being limited in recent weeks and Williamson said it will be good to have a stockpile this winter.

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