Marshall Medical Center South ICU reaches maximum capacity as COVID-19 numbers spike

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BOAZ, Ala. – Currently, all twelve of the ICU beds at Marshall Medical Center South are full, according to Marshall Medical Centers chief nursing officer Kathy Woodruff.

Eleven are COVID-19 positive patients. Seven of those 11 in-patients are on ventilators.

News 19 spoke with Woodruff last week and again Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

The number of in-patients battling the coronavirus has grown from 26 to 35 since then.

“We’re not at a tipping point yet, but we’re getting close,” said Woodruff

Across the county, there have been more than 100 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

It’s having a big impact on the hospitals.

“You don’t like to be in these kinds of situations where you’re nervous and worried that you might not be able to accommodate the patients that you have,” said Woodruff.

The hospital system can transfer patients to other facilities or implement it’s contingency plan if needed.

Woodruff said it also has plenty of ventilators.

But flu season is here and that is known for keeping the hospital busy.

“It does impact our emergency departments because people come to the emergency department for treatment and we’re kind of treating everybody the same. You know, the symptoms of the flu and the symptoms of COVID are very similar, so basically if you come to the emergency department with these symptoms, then we’re going to treat you as a positive COVID patient until we rule you out,” said Woodruff.

Woodruff told News 19 that mild symptoms are likely to blame for the ongoing spread.

“People think ‘I just have a cold’ or ‘It’s allergies’, or whatever and then they’re going out and about and even if they have a mask on, maybe they’re not washing their hands good, whatever happens, or they’re spreading it to their family members. We’ve seen a lot of that. And I think that’s how it’s happening, because people are waiting for this dramatic sickness to happen, waiting to have fever or a cough or, you know, ‘I can’t breathe’. Eventually some patients do get to that and those are the patients that come to the emergency department, because they are having a hard time,” explained Woodruff.

Large family and friend gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays could lead to another spike.

Woodruff said if people go visit family, the best thing to do is wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands.

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