Alabama hospital out of ICU beds has a chilling message: “You’re not going to get off the ventilator”
By Eric Fleischauer The Decatur Daily, Ala. (TNS) and Tribune Media Services
Out of intensive care beds due to an influx of COVID patients, Decatur Morgan Hospital is setting up makeshift ICU spaces in its emergency room.
“We have no ICU beds,” CEO Kelli Powers said Monday, and nine people who would normally be in ICU rooms are being held in the emergency room.
She said the average age of the 10 COVID patients in ICU on Monday was 58, including one who was 38, two who were 42, and one who was 49. Six of the ICU patients with COVID were on ventilators.
The hospital had 44 confirmed COVID patients and another 10 who were suspected of having the virus but awaiting test results. Only 16% of the COVID patients had been vaccinated for the virus, Powers said.
If oxygen levels are too low before a person seeks treatment, she said, the consequences can be fatal.
Both Powers and Judy Smith, administrator of the Alabama Department of Public Health Northern District, said they’ve seen an explosion of people seeking COVID tests. Smith said the number seeking tests at the Morgan County Health Department has tripled in the last three weeks.
“Motorists don’t need to leave their cars,” said Christy Such, clinical coordinator and registered nurse working the site. “The results will be known in three to five days.”
She said “very few” sites in Decatur offer rapid testing. There is no charge for testing, although insurance may be billed.
“Nobody has symptoms, but I had a co-worker who tested positive and I wanted to make sure we are all safe. I haven’t gotten a vaccination but plan to soon,” he said. “This mobile setup is very convenient.”
“We may go to five days a week if there is a need,” she said.