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.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18911337
Mobile13039289
Montgomery8628173
Madison750775
Tuscaloosa7180114
Lee570559
Shelby564550
Baldwin504749
Marshall382143
Etowah333447
Calhoun332039
Morgan318126
Houston269922
Elmore251947
DeKalb234619
St. Clair221335
Walker220780
Talladega205026
Limestone197319
Cullman183017
Franklin174128
Dallas173626
Russell17112
Autauga167324
Lauderdale164133
Colbert159326
Escambia155725
Blount154214
Jackson149411
Chilton147127
Dale132743
Covington130227
Coffee12708
Pike11519
Tallapoosa113183
Chambers112342
Clarke104917
Marion93728
Butler90838
Barbour8307
Marengo69919
Winston69912
Lowndes64527
Pickens63114
Bibb62810
Hale61228
Randolph60712
Bullock58514
Lawrence58220
Monroe5758
Geneva5634
Cherokee55516
Washington54413
Perry5376
Clay5367
Wilcox53011
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52231
Macon47620
Henry4674
Fayette4189
Sumter41819
Lamar3452
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3206
Greene30015
Coosa1613
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 181439

Reported Deaths: 2216
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby29800446
Davidson25840289
Hamilton903388
Rutherford890287
Knox880672
Williamson503036
Sumner462993
Wilson331841
Putnam301937
Montgomery292243
Bradley281816
Out of TN281123
Unassigned28036
Madison259656
Sevier250013
Blount242523
Maury218323
Robertson215133
Washington212332
Sullivan203831
Hamblen183125
Tipton171117
Trousdale16477
Hardeman151325
Gibson149219
Wayne14785
Bedford129516
Dyer125312
Dickson117612
Cumberland114317
Anderson111711
Fayette111118
Carter110827
Weakley110419
Henderson110119
Loudon10996
Greene107936
Coffee106912
Obion10669
Jefferson105114
McMinn104524
Macon100719
Warren9977
Monroe99416
Hardin95414
Lawrence93911
Lauderdale92815
Haywood90016
Franklin8757
Lake8712
Bledsoe8444
Roane8284
Carroll81617
Cheatham78410
McNairy78316
Rhea76611
White7639
Hawkins74716
Cocke7309
Marshall6985
Overton6734
Smith66910
Johnson6352
Henry5949
Chester5769
Lincoln5761
Giles54917
DeKalb54111
Hickman5154
Crockett49719
Marion4937
Decatur4556
Claiborne4234
Fentress4223
Campbell4153
Polk37511
Grainger3462
Benton3319
Union3311
Jackson3024
Morgan3023
Unicoi2741
Cannon2690
Grundy2305
Humphreys2243
Sequatchie2193
Meigs2163
Scott1972
Clay1825
Houston1780
Lewis1691
Stewart1672
Van Buren1490
Moore1451
Perry1400
Hancock1063
Pickett942

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