Decatur-Morgan Hospital announces new COVID-19 unit, plans for second ICU

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DECATUR, Ala. – Over 100 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Morgan County over the weekend, moving the county into the high risk category on the state’s COVID-19 risk map.

During a COVID-19 briefing Monday morning, Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, Morgan County Commission Chair Ray Long, and Decatur-Morgan Hospital President Kelli Powers all reiterated the importance of continued COVID-19 precautions.

Powers said the hospital has seen a spike in COVID-19 inpatients, peaking at 24 late last week. Nine employees were out with the virus as well.

Powers also said the ICU has been full, but not because of COVID-19 – Many patients are those who have delayed care to the point where they had no choice but to go to the hospital and be admitted to the ICU.

Powers reminded everyone to continue seeing their doctors for regular care and said everyone should get their flu shot as well – it’s possible for somebody to have both the flu and COVID-19.

To help alleviate congestion and avoid stopping elective surgeries in the main Decatur-Morgan campus, Powers announced the hospital is planning to open a COVID-19 unit at the Parkway campus.

Tentatively set to open Nov. 1, the unit will treat 15 patients who do not require intensive care – if a patient ends up worsening, they’ll be moved back to the main campus’s ICU.

The hospital is hiring additional staff for this unit as well.

If everything goes right, the hospital plans to expand the unit to 36 beds, and take in regional patients from Athens, Huntsville, and Madison as capacity allows – the unit will serve Morgan County patients first. The hospital is also hoping to close one of the COVID-19 units at the main campus with the shift to Parkway.

Powers also announced plans to ask FEMA for money to build a second, 12-bed ICU at the main campus, saying the beds are always full, and asked for assistance from Mayor Bowling and Chairman Long to get the funding.

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