UAB doctor explains how ICU bed shortages affect non-COVID patients

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 10:04 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo at UAB is explaining how ending up in the hospital with COVID affects the rest of the community, and can impact quality of care.

Running out of ICU beds doesn’t just mean that hospitals can’t accept more COVID patients.

Dr. Marrazzo explains that the ICU treats many more maladies than just COVID, and just half of all ICU patients right now statewide are those with COVID. The other half can be anything from sepsis to heart conditions that require intensive care, more staff and usually special spaces so doctors and nurses can keep an close eye on patients.

Hospitals are taking over different spaces to treat patients, but without the same resources.

Dr. Marazzo recounted that the hospital turned away two people with bad snake bites recently, and at the current rate of progression, that could get worse.

“It’s not like we are canceling nose jobs and elected surgeries like getting your eyes done,. This is fundamental surgery that is life-saving that is responsive to what you are experiencing now,” she said.

It’s not just an Alabama problem. One in five intensive care units in the country right now are full.

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