State health leaders say hospitals still stretched thin because staffing shortages

Hospital staff still stretched thin
Hospital staff still stretched thin
Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 8:41 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - ICU capacity across the state is no longer in the negatives. There are 62 open ICU beds, but even with numbers improving, doctors said more staff is still needed.

President of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Don Williamson, said hospital staffing is still the state’s number one issue when it comes to this pandemic even as these numbers trend downwards.

Latest numbers show there are 1,566 Covid hospitalizations, but only about 38% are in the ICU. Williamson said that is good news, but normally without a pandemic there are at least 400 to 500 ICU beds open.

State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state has gotten extensions for the federal strike teams to stay in two southern Alabama counties. He said they are also looking into breaking the teams up, so they can cover more hospitals in need.

Williamson said the state won’t be able to bring in traveling nurses until sometime next month, so Harris said even though numbers are improving, it is still an overwhelming amount for hospitals.

“We still have places with staff working around the clock, many days a week for a year and a half,” Harris said. “Having additional staff is something we are going to need for the foreseeable future.”

Williamson said while staff is still stretched thin, transfers are also improving. He said the state is now able to transfer patients to other hospitals again, it just is not happening as quickly as he would like.

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