North Alabama hospitals: plenty of space for current, hospitalized coronavirus patients

The comments from local hospitals come after some in Montgomery ran out of ICU space.

Posted: May 20, 2020 10:34 PM
Updated: May 20, 2020 10:41 PM

In Montgomery on Wednesday, the mayor outlined a stark reality for those who may need to go to the hospital due to the coronavirus.

"Right now, if you're from Montgomery and you need an ICU bed, you're in trouble. If you're from central Alabama and you need an ICU bed, you may not be able to get one because our health care system has been maxed out," said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed.

Some of their patients had to be transported to the Birmingham area for treatment due to a lack of bed space in Montgomery.

But despite that challenge in the center of the state, in the northwest, hospital officials said they're not seeing the same kind of hardship.

"Are we there yet? No. But as you mentioned, there is a point of, if the infections continue to escalate, that that will become a concern," said Kyle Buchanan, the president of Helen Keller Hospital.

Buchanan said a couple of months ago, near the start of the outbreak in Alabama, the hospital worked to expand the number of beds that could house coronavirus patients from around 12 to about 40.

He said the number at the hospital at any given time has fluctuated. It's highest total at one time was 18 positive patients.

"We hit that number about four weeks ago and then saw a dramatic decrease in volume and as of about 10-12 days ago, we saw that begin to pick back up again to a point where we are hovering around 12 today and anticipate that to go up," said Buchanan.

As of 10 p.m. Wednesday night, the Shoals (Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties) had a total of 626 confirmed cases since the outbreak began. On May 1, that total was only 161 cases. Buchanan said it's important to watch that trend closely.

"If we continue to see three- or four-fold increases, we will come to a point where we have to make some of those tough decisions and think about our resources and make sure we've got what we need to take care of our patients," said Buchanan.

Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said it's crucial for all hospitals to keep a close eye on the number of cases in their nearby counties.

"As we reopen, we continue to carefully monitor our numbers so that hospitals can maintain capacity and be able to treat the patients as they come into the hospital," said Dr. Landers.

While places like Marshall County and Franklin County have seen a notable increase in cases in recent weeks, experts said right now, it's too early to determine with certainty exactly how reopening has impacted the case total.

"We absolutely want to support our local businesses, we absolutely want to get back to work as much as possible, we just want to make sure we're safe in how we're doing it, such that we never get to the point where we have a situation in which our local hospitals are overrun with patients," said Buchanan.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
51° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 51°
Florence
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 53°
Fayetteville
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 50°
Decatur
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 51°
Scottsboro
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 48°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131405

Reported Deaths: 2292
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 184409

Reported Deaths: 2233
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30155447
Davidson26017293
Hamilton914489
Rutherford903187
Knox899872
Williamson508936
Sumner470593
Wilson337343
Putnam307037
Out of TN301324
Montgomery296243
Unassigned28916
Bradley285816
Madison270156
Sevier251813
Blount244023
Maury226023
Washington217933
Robertson217233
Sullivan205431
Hamblen183825
Tipton173917
Trousdale16517
Gibson153819
Hardeman153225
Wayne14805
Bedford130916
Dyer127912
Dickson119913
Cumberland115317
Fayette114318
Anderson113311
Henderson113119
Carter112627
Weakley111819
Loudon11156
Coffee110812
Greene110737
Obion10889
McMinn106824
Jefferson106614
Macon102020
Warren10127
Monroe100116
Lawrence97011
Hardin96714
Lauderdale93615
Haywood92116
Lake9152
Franklin9137
Bledsoe8454
Roane8414
Carroll83217
McNairy81016
Cheatham79010
White7849
Rhea78111
Hawkins77016
Cocke7349
Marshall7175
Overton6805
Smith67810
Johnson6482
Henry6029
Chester5919
Lincoln5791
Giles56817
DeKalb54611
Hickman5385
Crockett51319
Marion5007
Decatur4786
Fentress4363
Claiborne4304
Campbell4193
Polk37811
Grainger3503
Union3371
Benton3329
Jackson3055
Morgan3053
Unicoi2801
Cannon2760
Grundy2495
Humphreys2323
Sequatchie2233
Meigs2213
Clay2105
Scott2002
Houston1860
Lewis1771
Stewart1752
Moore1541
Van Buren1530
Perry1460
Hancock1063
Pickett982

Community Events