HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — At this time last year, the Huntsville Hospital system reported 415 COVID-19 patients, including 245 in Madison County.
The numbers today, both locally and statewide are much better.
While there have been reports of COVID-19 case increases in recent week, the trendlines for hospitalizations hasn’t followed.
News 19 spoke to Dr. Don Williamson, President, and CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association, and Tracy Doughty, President and Chief Operating Officer of Huntsville Hospital. They both said even though the U.S. has seen back-to-back years of post-holiday COVID-19 hospitalization surges, that doesn’t appear to be happening this year.
Hospitals across Alabama have seen the number of COVID-19 patients go down over the past two weeks, from 634 on Jan. 7, to 517 on Wednesday, Williamson said. Alabama still has a COVID-19 positive test rate of 13 percent, but that’s down from 23 percent on January 7.
Huntsville Hospital’s Doughty also is reporting a favorable trend when it comes to staffing which has been strained in the COVID era.
“We’ve had nurses picking up extra shifts flipping from day shift to night shift working four and five days a week,” Doughty said. “Shifts weren’t going uncovered, we just had people working more sometimes than they like, but to cover the community. So, by adding staff that can ratchet back to what they normally work. They can have a normal-work life balance, as we tried to get back to. The last month we’ve onboarded close to 200 new nurses, nurses coming out of nursing school, that was a big jolt to our system.”
Doughty said Huntsville Hospital will continue to add nurses with new nurses graduating in the spring.
The current patient load has become more routine, Doughty said. When COVID inpatients hover around 50-60 that’s about normal, he said, 100 or more starts to become a concern.
Comparing the current number of COVID-19 patients in Madison County at Huntsville Hospital, compared to a year ago shows there were 47 patients Wednesday, way down from 245 a year ago.
There are currently six ICU patients and two patients on ventilators. A year ago at this time, there were 35 ICU patients and 24 patients on ventilators.
Doughty also said the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients locally have co-morbidities and are either unvaccinated or haven’t received booster shots.