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Health officials said they learned a lot from the COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 6:08 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hospitalizations are down to less than 400 patients battling COVID-19.

Even with lower numbers, hospital officials said they are still prepared for a spike.

“We learned from this,” President of the Alabama Hospital Association Dr. Don Williamson said. “We have much better tools. If we have to face another wave, if we have to face something else like this, we have greater reserves than maybe we even imagined.”

At the start of the pandemic, hospitals struggled with PPE and equipment shortages. They also struggled making room to treat patients battling the virus, but Dr. Williamson said hospitals have learned how to not experience some of these issues again.

“I think one of the things that will be different going forward, I think hospitals are genuinely re-assessing how much PPE they need to keep on hand,” he said. “We have a much better ventilator inventory today than we did at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Dr. Williamson said one pandemic-related problem that will likely stick around is staffing shortages.

“There are finite limits in staffing,” he said. “I have great confidence that we can flex building and we can flex stuff like ventilators. Staffing however, really does become the issue in this.”

Dr. Williamson said many hospitals still are dealing with COVID-19. He said there are more than 100 people in ICUs across the state. But, he said some elements are returning back to normal.

“There is some sense of normality in that more elective procedures are able to be done than were done in the past.”

He said the pandemic has been tough on hospitals and staff, but informative.

“While it’s been a painful year,” Williamson said. “I think it is clear that we are in much better shape if we have to deal with another spike.”

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