Hospitals concerned as COVID-19 patients rise ahead of Thanksgiving surge

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -Hospitals across the state are seeing near-record numbers of patients who need to be admitted with COVID-19, and healthcare workers are feeling the strain.

At UAB, 25 percent of all of the ICU beds are used by COVID patients. The fear is that we haven’t even begun to see the results of Thanksgiving gatherings yet that could send these numbers soaring even higher.

“What we see is after we have a holiday, about two weeks later, we start seeing a bump in cases. And two weeks after that, we start seeing a rise in hospitalizations related to those cases as patients become more ill. So we haven’t even begun to see a surge related to Thanksgiving yet. What we’re seeing right now is a surge in patients who related to maybe things we did over Halloween weekend, to football games, we went to small gatherings that we went to so, so that’s what we’re seeing right now,” said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, Co-chair of UAB’s Emergency Management Committee, which assigns patients, staffing, and resources to handle the workload. “I really want everybody to take a minute and realize that these are real people just like me and you who are coming to the hospital who are critically ill, and some of them are dying,”

Nafziger explained staffing is a growing problem. Several UAB employees are being exposed to COVID, not at work- at home, forcing their coworkers to take on extra shifts, delay vacations, and spend more time away from their families.

“Our staff is tired. The pandemic has taken a toll on us. They are emotionally drained. They are physically tired, and we are all ready for this to be over with,”

Nafziger pleaded with people to continue to follow those safety steps, wear masks, social distance and wash your hands for at least a few more months because the vaccine may not be available for everyone until the spring or later.

For now, UAB has stopped scheduling elective surgeries to conserve resources. Those surgeries already scheduled will still go on, but the hospital is putting a hold on scheduling any more until further notice.

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