Rural Alabama hospitals resume struggle with COVID patients

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 7:56 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 10:17 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The role of rural hospitals as COVID cases rise is critical, but they are in danger of being overwhelmed again. We spoke with the president of the American Hospital Association who says rural hospitals are digging in for a new fight.

The amount of hospitalizations rose today to new highs not seen since the winter, and for the first time since January fewer than 10% of all ICU beds were available.

“We are certainly seeing rural hospitals that are already starting to have difficulty with transfers,” said Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson.

Dr. Don Williamson says while all hospitals are seeing more patients, smaller hospitals do struggle with space to care for patients in need. Almost 500 people are requiring intensive care today statewide, which means hospitals will have to make more space and expend more staff to work in COVID units.

“For the first time now I am sure going back to January, we had over 200 of them on ventilators,” he said.

When they hit their limit, they will have to reach out to larger facilities.

“Those rural hospitals were able to take care of the patients they could safely take care of and keep the burden off the urban hospitals, and where that became critical was in early January,” he said.

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