Alabama hospital crisis intensifies; 66 now waiting for ICU beds

Alabama's hospitals are seeing more patients and increasing demand for ICU beds, but demand is...
Alabama's hospitals are seeing more patients and increasing demand for ICU beds, but demand is outpacing supply for those critically ill patients, many of whom are having to wait in emergency rooms or on gurneys in hallways until a bed is available.
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:07 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama hospitals were treating 2,886 COVID-19 inpatients Friday, up by seven from the previous day, according to data from the Alabama Hospital Association. That number also accounted for an increase in pediatric COVID cases, up by two to 47.

The state’s ICU bed crisis has also intensified. On Thursday there were 1,562 staffed ICU beds. That number dropped to 1,549 on Friday. Meanwhile, the number of people needing an ICU bed climbed from 1,602 on Thursday to 1,615. That means the state’s ICU bed deficit has increased from 40 to 66.

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said on Friday, citing the state’s surging COVID case and hospitalizations, the state is “really in a crisis situation” and choked up when explaining “I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to do this,” in reference to battling the pandemic.

As the pandemic continues to rage, additional “breakthrough” cases among those who are fully vaccinated continue to be reported. However, the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.

The hospital association said Friday that 84% of inpatients being treated for coronavirus are unvaccinated, down slightly from recent data. The change is due to an increase in hospitalizations of those who are now partially vaccinated. About 12% of inpatients are fully vaccinated.

In the Montgomery area, Baptist Health said its doctors at Baptist East are treating 55 people, Baptist South has 60, and Baptist Prattville has 25. Nearby Jackson Hospital reported 58.

The situation continues to be dire, especially in south Alabama where Harris said a 14-member medical federal task force is in Baldwin County to assist. A 20-member team is going to Dothan, and an assessment team from the Department of Health and Human Resources is planning a trip to Dale Medical Center in Ozark to assess needs there.

The state’s COVID death toll is rising, with 50 casualties being reported in just the last day. Harris said “there’s no room to put these bodies,” as he discussed efforts by the Alabama Department of Public Health to move two mobile morgue trailers to south Alabama due to rising deaths.

This is the first time during the pandemic the mobile morgues have been needed.

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