Decatur COVID-19 unit opens at half-capacity

Due to lack of staffing, the unit will only house 15 patients, instead of the intended 36, for now.
Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 6:25 PM CST
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Our Tennessee Valley hospitals are feeling the wrath of COVID-19 more than ever before.

There are 266 patients within the entire Huntsville Hospital system being treated for the disease right now.

While Huntsville is seeing a majority of those patients, Decatur-Morgan isn’t far behind.

Monday, Decatur-Morgan had 50 positive in-patients. That’s another new high from last week.

“We encourage that you wear your face masks everywhere you go. If you’re sick, please stay home. If you’re in the hospital and you have the virus and you go home, stay at home and quarantine like you’re supposed to,” Parkway Nurse Tina McGrath said.

Several months ago, hospital president Kelli Powers announced the opening of the new COVID-19 unit.

She told WAFF 49 News the new unit was out of an abundance of caution if virus numbers were to rise.

“It is new beds we can add patients to. Thank goodness we planned this ahead of time to have those. We’re also working on a plan to get up to 36 [beds],” Powers explained.

Due to lack of staffing, Powers says the new COVID unit will only have 15 beds for now, instead of 36.

However, it will still help with the tremendous increase of COVID patients in the Morgan County area.

”It’ll take some of the stress of the Decatur campus and will allow for elective surgeries. It’ll also be contained so we can take care of that community,” McGrath explained.

McGrath is one of the nursing directors at the Parkway location.

She says, after the last several months fighting through this pandemic, her team is prepared to continue treating these types of patients.

Not only does the hospital staff play a crucial role in battling this virus, but nurses say you do too.

“Keep your hands washed, cover your mouth when you’re sneezing and coughing and just practice social distancing. It’s very important,” McGrath continued.

Powers says they’re working to hire more staff and get more equipment, so they can open up the unit to full capacity in the next few months.

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