Helen Keller Hospital reporting increase in critical coronavirus patients

The number of patients suffering from coronavirus at Helen Keller Hospital has stayed about the same for a week, but they are seeing sicker patients with the virus in critical care.

Posted: Jul 31, 2020 2:21 PM
Updated: Jul 31, 2020 9:05 PM

On Friday, Helen Keller Hospital officials said the coronavirus ICU unit there has a wide range of patients, from infants to the elderly, and they are treating sicker people.

As of July 31, in total, there are 33 patients in Helen Keller's ICU coronavirus unit.

Last Friday, there were a total of 34 patients in the same unit. Now, 15 of those patients are critically ill with coronavirus. Five patients are on ventilators.

"We've got 15 of those 33 patients that are receiving ICU-level care. We've never had that number in our hospital receiving ICU level care for COVID positive, so this is new territory for us," said Helen Keller Hospital President Kyle Buchanan.

Buchanan said coronavirus in the Shoals is attacking all age groups.

"We've had infants in the COVID unit this week. We've had acutely ill patients in their 30s and 40s on ventilators, as well as 80 year olds, so it's all across the board. We are not seeing nearly that concentrated group of elderly patients. We're seeing babies to 80-plus year olds," said Buchanan.

Hospital officials said they haven't had to expand their coronavirus ICU unit this week, but they are providing more critical care.

"We are still in a place where we feel like we can manage it and just hope that continues to plateau and slow down in the coming weeks," said Buchanan.

Buchanan said his nurses and doctors are working harder than ever before.

"Thirty-three is a lot and 15 receiving acute ICU care is a lot and to see them step up in those ways is tremendous," said Buchanan.

Buchanan said he was pleased to see the governor extend the mask order to the end of August. He said wearing a mask in public is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week, the North Alabama Medical Center in Florence told WAAY 31 it has about 30 coronavirus patients. That hospital has had to expand its coronavirus unit as well.

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