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Huntsville Hospital prepares for increase in COVID hospitalizations

Tracy Doughty said right now the hospital has enough staff to take care of patients and they help each other out.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 6:35 PM
Updated: Jul 28, 2021 7:06 PM

Growing concerns from the largest hospital system in North Alabama as the number of people in the hospital with coronavirus rising.

Tracy Doughty, the president of Huntsville Hospital said as of Wednesday, there are 69 people in the hospital in Madison County with COVID.

A month ago, there were 17. That's quadruple the amount of people in the hospital fighting the virus in just a month. 

Doughty said the rate at which people are coming to the hospital to get treatment for the virus is alarming.

"This could take off and then put us in a bad situation pretty quickly...You don't see people wearing masks as much as they used to and then put that on top of the delta variant is that much more transmissible that really sends worries to us as a hospital system," said Doughty. 

Doughty said right now the hospital has enough staff to take care of patients. But he's worried about the mental and physical toll working those long hours can take on his staff. 

"They pick up extra shifts, stay over, help each other out, float in other departments. So I'm not worried about our culture here, I'm just worried about burning our people out," he said.

The good news is right now at Huntsville Hospital they have enough beds, PPE and medicine to fight COVID-19. Hospitals like Huntsville Hospital are already busy. 

Add on top of that, the growing number of COVID patients. 

Doughty said when you see more people in the hospital, obviously wait times in the emergency room could get longer. 

He said as of right now, Huntsville Hospital is not changing their visitation policy. 

They are not doing away with elective surgeries or anything like that. 

But they are having conversations about those topics because they need to be prepared if there is a surge in cases. 

"Preparing for a surge, you have to talk about staffing, you have to talk about supplies, you have to talk about visitation, elective procedures, all those things are on the list to go through," said Doughty.

Doughty also said about 95 percent of people who are at Huntsville Hospital because of COVID are unvaccinated. He stressed that people need to go get the vaccine before you put yourself or other people in danger.

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