Decatur-Morgan Hospital asking retired medical professionals for help relieving overburdened staff

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DECATUR, Ala. – Dire messages highlighted the Decatur-Morgan County COVID-19 briefing Monday morning.

Michael Glenn from the Alabama Department of Public Health said positivity rates are up – extremely – across north Alabama.

He said over the last 14 days, over half of those who were tested for coronavirus came back positive in both Jackson (51%) and Marshall Counties (54%).

Morgan County wasn’t too far behind, either – he said the positivity rate was 47.9%.

Decatur-Morgan Hospital President Kelli Powers gave a sobering report on the state of the hospital.

She said the hospital once again had a record number of inpatients with COVID-19 (78). Of those, 25 were in the ICU, and 11 were on ventilators.

However, 2 of those ventilators were borrowed from Helen Keller Hospital and Powers said the hospital only has 19 ICU beds, so other areas of the hospital are being repurposed to deal with the surge.

Powers added the surge is taking a toll on staffing numbers, with 26 employees testing positive and an additional 46 in quarantine.

Citing it “a dire emergency for [the] state,” Powers asked retired physicians and nurses who are able and willing to come out of retirement and help alleviate stress on the staff – even if for just a few hours a week.

Those interested can contact the hospital via email or by calling (256) 973-2000.

Powers said the next step in the surge plan will involve suspending inpatient elective surgeries and converting both the recovery unit and the staff over to ICU use.

Beyond that, Powers hinted they may need help from UAB in Birmingham.

Glenn said behaviors need to change for the surge to stop – everyone needs to get back to wearing masks, sanitizing, and distancing.

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