HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In December, more than 66,000 Americans died from COVID-19, making this month the deadliest month so far in the pandemic.
Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines have been distributed to front line workers across the country, but experts expect a drastic surge following the holidays.
System wide, there are a little shy of 500 inpatients within the Huntsville Hospital Health System. There are 242 inpatients in Madison County. That’s up 30 inpatients over the last two weeks with more than 100 employees in quarantine.
More Alabamians are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms now than at any other point during the pandemic.
“We are stretched with staffing and we are stretched with capacity,” said Senior Vice President of Operations Tracy Doughty.
Earlier this month, staff with Huntsville Hospital transformed the Madison Street Tower to ICU beds. With those beds still at capacity, the staff is starting to reassign other parts of the hospital for COVID positive patients.
“We did some rearranging in our PACU to create some ICU beds there and in one of our areas called Cardiac Short Stay we created additional ICU beds there. If it increases, we have plans in place in other parts we can convert to ICU or floor beds.”
The plan is to keep patients within the four walls of the hospital as long as possible. “It might be nontraditional areas, but it is still in the hospital where if something is going wrong, we can overhead page and the right people will show up.”
There are roughly 140 Huntsville Hospital employees off the front lines in Madison County due to the virus. Hospital administrators said they aren’t in panic mode yet, but they are keeping a careful eye on what they expect will be another post-holiday surge.
Until then, they remain hopeful. “Maybe they were following the news and saw how the uptick happened following Thanksgiving and they didn’t have those large gatherings and didn’t travel as much, but only time will tell.”
Doughty said the hospital has administered 35-hundred vaccines to staff members. He said he has received his vaccine and encourages others to do their research and follow suit.