Helen Keller Hospital ready for next phase of COVID pandemic

Dr. Lynn Ridgeway converses with staff in the COVID-19 unit of Helen Keller Hospital during...
Dr. Lynn Ridgeway converses with staff in the COVID-19 unit of Helen Keller Hospital during training for a ventilation technique called "Prone Ventiliation"(Courtesy Photo (custom credit) | Times Daily)
Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 8:55 AM CDT
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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WAFF) - The staff at Helen Keller Hospital’s COVID-19 unit is ready for the next phase of the pandemic, whether it be a worst-case scenario or a better than expected outcome.

“I definitely think we’re entering a critical phase whether it’s a tsunami or a manageable load,” pulmonologist Dr. Lynn Ridgeway said, stressing that something as simple as changes in basic human behavior can lessen the impact of the pandemic. “My family has been locked down for weeks at home. I’ve been here at the hospital, and not risking shedding this virus on (my family) or anyone else.”

Dr. Ridgeway spoke with our news partners at the Times Daily this week. He says Helen Keller hasn’t been overrun with patients yet, and he’s confident the hospital’s plan to treat corona patients will be effective. “We have people assigned specifically to this floor and they’re ready to go,” he said. “I can’t say enough about how efficiently and compassionately these health professionals have cared for these patients. Just imagine bringing the person you love most in life to the ER and being told that the person is being admitted to the hospital, so just go home.”

Dr. Ridgeway says the hospital staff has also been working hard to make sure a plan is in place for family members to be kept in the loop as patients come in. Alabama’s current emergency order bars visitors. “Every day we’re on the phone with the designated family members telling them what’s going on with their loved one, but also checking with them for symptoms,” Ridgeway said.

Ridgeway says the hospital has equipment and room for 12 patients on ventilators, but pooling resources with other facilities could potentially triple that. He also said doctors have been looking into online reports of converting other equipment into ventilators if need be.

To find out more about the COVID preps at Helen Keller, pick up today’s edition of the Times Daily, or check out their online article here.

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