Alabama out of ICU beds, Huntsville Hospital ICU over capacity


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The state is out of beds in the intensive care unit, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. Monday the association reported 1,536 staffed ICU beds in the states and 1,589 ICU patients.

Meanwhile large gatherings are being held in North Alabama as hospitals are strained by the surge in patients.

Huntsville Hospital Health System reports there are 155 COVID-19 inpatients in Madison County and 46 of them are in the ICU.

Huntsville Hospital is among the facilities in the state that have more ICU patients than ICU beds.
CEO Tracy Doughty explains how the hospital is navigating that situation. Patients that would normally be treated in the ICU are being treated in other areas of the hospital.

“We have about 15 or 20 inpatients that would typically be in the ICU because they’re not on a ventilator, but they’re on high flow oxygen. But we’ve learned about COVID and we’ve trained our staff. So, those patients are on the floor, is why you see the state’s negative ICU beds,” Doughty explained.

The hospital also continues to struggle with staffing needs. Doughty says they’ve halted inpatient elective surgeries; staff are switching shifts and working weekends to treat the influx of patients.

“75, 100 qualified nurses show up and want to be hired, we’d hire them. There’s work to do. If nothing else give our staff a break,” Doughty said.

As the number of COVID inpatients approaches figures we haven’t seen since the pandemic’s peak in January, large gatherings continue to be held, including the Save America rally in Cullman over the weekend that drew thousands.

Cullman Regional Hospital is also over its ICU bed capacity. According to a hospital spokesperson they have 19 ICU patients, while the hospital has 10 ICU beds.

Doughty says no matter what the event is, if it draws a large, unmasked crowd… “If it’s in North Alabama it kind of concerns us.”

He asks people to wear a mask when attending large gatherings, where people don’t know each other’s vaccination status.

“It won’t hurt anything,” Doughty stated. “You’re at a college football game where you know you’ll be in corridor shoulder to shoulder with people, I would wear a mask.”

Huntsville Hospital also provided details about COVID-19 patients ages on Monday. Doughty says the average age continues to be younger than it was previously, now in the low 50’s. He added seven children are being treated for COVID-19 at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. None of the pediatric patients are in the ICU or on a ventilator.

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