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Staffing shortages impacting area hospitals

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 9:56 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. / OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - Staffing shortages are impacting nearly every industry across the nation including the healthcare system.

Many hospitals and medical facilities in our area are struggling as the pandemic continues to deplete resources. One local hospital is calling on the community for help.

Piedmont Columbus Regional is looking for volunteers to fulfill several different roles. But with COVID hospitalizations on the rise, they’re not the only hospital in our area in need of all hands on deck.

Hospitals throughout the nation are working tirelessly to combat staffing shortages.

“I think it’s sad that there is a shortage. But I get it because a lot of people that have been helping have gotten sick,” said Rose Cagle, Alabama resident.

“Staffing has definitely been an issue with this variant. We’ve had over 100 employees out at a time due to COVID,” said John Atkinson, East Alabama Health.

Atkinson says East Alabama Health has seen its highest amount of COVID patients within the past 24 hours.

“We are currently at 96 COVID patients and that’s a new all time high for us,” he said.

However, Atkinson says in the fall, East Alabama Health’s COVID patients peaked at 93. With so many patients, Atkinson says their human resource department has been training new nurses faster than normal and even called in retired employees to help.

“They’re all risking their health and calling in the retirees, that’s really pushing it,” Cagle added.

Atkinson says that’s not the only measure being taken at East Alabama Health to ensure COVID patients are seen.

“Last week, we began delaying or postponing some elective inpatient procedures and those are procedures where the patient has the surgery and has to stay one or more nights in the hospital,” Atkinson said.

Local hospitals in the Fountain City say they’re also doing everything they can to help COVID patients.

Piedmont Columbus Regional is even asking the community to volunteer, assisting in non-clinical and administrative roles. The hospital says they specifically need volunteers that are at least 18 to answer phones, greet or director visitors and even do clerical or computer work. Another requirement is for volunteers to be vaccinated.

“Thank God for those people because I don’t know what we’d do,” Cagle said.

East Alabama Health will be offering drive-through testing again this week on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Call 334-528-4YOU to make an appointment.

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