Coronavirus crippling parts of Alabama’s health care system

Coronavirus crippling parts of Alabama's health care system

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Thousands of Alabama health care workers are losing their jobs or being furloughed because health care facilities are not allowed to provide elective procedures.

Those procedures provide a bulk of a health care facility’s income.

For instance, the Huntsville Hospital System announced Thursday it furloughed and reduced hours for 2,000 employees.

“You see facilities that are just bleeding money left and right," said Ryan Kelly with the Alabama Rural Health Association.

The State Department of Labor says about 19,000 health care workers have filed unemployment claims since March.

The Alabama Hospital Association said the state banned elective procedures to free up personal protective equipment, provide hospital beds and limit the amount of people grouped together.

“It’s painful. But I think in terms of trying to save lives, in terms of trying to reduce the long-term negative effect on the economy, we’ve done what we had to do. Now we just have to do it long enough to ensure that we keep the virus suppressed,” said Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson.

The Alabama Hospital Association says there are about 14,600 acute care beds in Alabama. At the time this article was published, only 367 people have been sent to the hospital since March 13 for the coronavirus.

$450 million from the federal government is on its way to hospitals and health care facilities in the state to help them make ends meet.

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