Mobile County doctors concerned with rising hospitalization rates

Coronavirus

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Hospitalizations in Mobile County continue to trend upwards, and doctors are watching those numbers closely.

The main concern for the doctors is the level of care that can be delivered decreases as the number of hospitalizations increase.

“We also definitely have a fatigue factor that has set in,” said Dr. Lawrence Bedsole, with the Pulmonary Associates of Mobile.

Dr. Bedsole is a pulmonary and critical care doctor and is currently working the COVID unit.

“Generally, on a call week we would say it is about a 108-hour week working at the hospital,” said Dr. Bedsole. He continued, “as the other diseases didn’t stop existing when COVID came around.”

He constantly monitors the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county.

“There are only so many hospitals, there are only so many beds, there are so many staff,” Dr. Bedsole said.

His main concerns with the rising number of hospitalizations, staffing.

“The nursing staff and the respiratory staff are really the ones who are hands-on with at least 12-hour shifts,” he said. He continued, “you have nursing and RT staff who are also dealing with the necessary furloughs and things like that for their own medical needs or simply quarantine for exposures, because obviously they are at higher risk of exposure than just about anyone. And so, it definitely creates a strain on the system as we’re seeing in hospitals not just in Mobile, but across the country.”

Right now, there are 114 people hospitalized in Mobile County for coronavirus. That number has been trending upwards the past few weeks. “We were already in a spike. And with the holidays where people were traveling and not socially distancing, so we’re going to have a spike on top of a spike,” said Dr. Scott Chavers, the head of the Mobile County Health Department’s COVID response.

As of right now, hospitals generally are staying full, and filling up quickly if there are any openings. “Hospitals are very good about flexing to other areas of hospitals. It’s not really the ICU beds you’re worried about, it’s the staffing you’re worried about,” Dr. Chavers said.

“It would take only a slight slight shift before that becomes a potential catastrophe. And that’s nationwide, not just Mobile,” Dr. Bedsole said.

Doctors with MCHD say when they see increases in hospitalizations, it means the severity of the disease is also increasing in some high-risk populations.

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