OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - In addition to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) has also seen an increase in hospitalizations.
According to officials with EAMC, Monday there were more patients hospitalized there for the virus compared to any other time of the pandemic, including the peak several months ago.
“It’s disheartening,” said Michael Roberts, M.D., the chief of staff at EAMC.
According to data from EAMC, there were 58 hospitalizations Monday and 56 Tuesday. The most the hospital had seen before was 54 back in April.
“We’ve seen our cases go up and we all expected that, but it’s been much more than we thought it’s going to be,” Roberts said.
Roberts said they’re also seeing a new trend among these hospitalizations. During the first peak, he said they were seeing more patients from nursing facilities. Now, they’re seeing many patients who are still active.
“[They] are still working, generally younger than what we were seeing in that first peak,” he said. “Again, some of them get very, very sick.”
In fact, according to hospital officials, they’ve had patients in their 30s die from COVID-19, and three of the 12 deaths this month have been under the age of 50.
Though Roberts said the hospital is not at capacity, they’ve had to shuffle things around to accommodate all these coronavirus patients.
“We have one medical floor that’s completely dedicated to patients with COVID-19,” he said. “We’ve spilled off of that floor into a second care area for floor patients who have COVID-19. Our main ICU is primarily dedicated to patients with COVID-19. And we’ve opened an additional care area that’s not normally an ICU area to help care for our critical patients who do not have COVID-19.”
Plus, Roberts staff members are being moved to different units to help, adding to their stress and strain.
“[Employees] see staff members getting pulled from their usual clinical care areas, there’s just kind of this sentiment of here we go again,” he said.
Roberts said he he knows they keep talking about the importance of masks, but they want to highlight it again. He emphasized that masks are a public health issue and not a political one, and wearing a mask is critical to combating the spread of the virus.