Alabama Hospitals Out of ICU Beds As Cases Surge Amid Health Care Worker Shortage

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state, the Alabama Hospital Association says there aren’t enough ICU beds for all patients being hospitalized due to a number of reason including a health care worker shortage.

Consistently over the last weeks in Alabama just over 50% of patients in ICUs have been sick with COVID-19. However, last weekend the state had -120 ICU beds. The number did improve by Tuesday to -53.

Danne Howard Executive Vice President of the Alabama Hospital Association said the number fluctuates by the hour which is caused by multiple reasons, but specifically a health care worker shortage that was a problem before the pandemic and has only worsened.

“Its unfortunate the pandemic itself has highlighted this,” Howard said. “Its not unique to Alabama. Its throughout the country.”

Governor Ivey allocated $12 million towards bringing travel nurses to the state last week. Howard said this is only a temporary fix and will not fix the long term problem that we do not have enough health care workers.

Hospitals are also seeing an increase of children, pregnant women, and young adults seriously ill with COVID-19. The median age is now 54 years old which is about 10 years younger than what we saw in the winter surge.

“There’s a lot of debate on why that is, but clearly a lot of those over 60 got vaccinated,” Howard said.

The number of people getting vaccinated in the state is actually rising. Howard believes any step forward is progress for our hospitals.

“I certainly hope that it continues. I do believe that more young people and children being impacted  with the delta variant has helped the awareness that we need to have more adults vaccinated to protect our children.”

An improvement from this time last year in Alabama hospitals is that we are not running out of ventilators. The AHA said we have still have about 40% of ventilators available.

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