Helen Keller Hospital CEO gives update on COVID-19 numbers


SHEFFIELD, Ala. — The holidays, COVID fatigue, and indoor gatherings due to colder temperatures are all factors Helen Keller Hospital CEO Kyle Buchanan said are contributing to increased cases.

“Our numbers here in the Shoals are mirroring that of the rest of the state and the nation,” Buchanan said. “We’re seeing near-record numbers.”

Buchanan said those near-record numbers are bringing more people to the emergency room, “with patients who either already know they’re already positive or come here with pretty extreme symptoms.”

Buchanan said many of those patients going to the ER end up admitted to the hospital. He said Helen Keller has 35 COVID-19-positive patients as of Tuesday.

While Buchanan said that number isn’t overwhelming, he did say it’s very concerning.

“The concerning aspect is we’ve had days, 10 days ago frankly, where we admitted 11 patients in one shift, one 12-hour shift,” Buchanan said. “If the stars align for another afternoon like we had on that day, just over a week ago, and we get into the high 40s, that’s when we would really strain our resources.”

Resources like ventilators. The hospital has more than 30, with only two in use right now.

Buchanan said the hospital plans to put its concern into action, to ensure critical care staff have everything they need, “because we fully anticipate this will be a several weeks, if not several months, endeavor in which we have 30-plus COVID patients.”

Buchanan said many people may mistake COVID-19 symptoms with run-of-the-mill fall allergies or a sinus infection. He encourages anyone affected to reach out to their doctor to make sure.

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