HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Over the past few months, some businesses have been forced to close because employees contracted COVID-19. While many of those businesses are valuable to the community, hospitals are among the most valuable businesses at the moment. And hospital staff are not immune to the virus.
COVID-19 testing continues to be a top priority for local health professionals. When a person gets tested, Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said they should quarantine until their results come back. That’s exactly what some Huntsville Hospital system employees are being required to do at this time.
“We currently have 190 plus employees that are out of work because of COVID,” Spillers explained. “Not that they all have COVID but they have a family member that has COVID, they’re waiting on result, or they have been diagnosed as positive.”
Spillers said with nearly 200 hospital staff members out, they’re reassigning existing staff to fill the void.
“It’s a strain what we end up needing to do is we end up pulling people from other areas of the hospital to backfill those areas where we have vacancies,” he added.
At Monday’s Huntsville-area COVID-19 briefing, Spillers said the loss of staff has limited the hospital system’s ability to care for COVID-19 patients.
Currently, in Madison County there are 116 inpatients in the Huntsville Hospital System.
“We’re gonna continue to allocate our in our in house testing for COVID to our inpatients our emergency patients, our physicians and our staff,” said Spiller. “We’ve seen a substantial increase in the need for testing staff, the need for testing patients who come in.’
Spillers said staff members who test positive, or are awaiting test results are required to use paid time off, like sick or vacation days.
He explained when its time for them to return, those staff members must be re-tested for the virus before they can officially re-enter the facilities.
Spillers added he continues to enforce strict guidelines for employees in an effort to keep everyone safe. He said additionally, the Alabama Department of Public Health is working on new guidelines for healthcare workers.