MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) –The community transmission level in Mobile County remains high, and hospitals are still feeling the brunt of this pandemic.

Hospitals are having to find solutions due to a rise in omicron cases. Chief Medical Officer of Providence Dr. Ijaz Iqbal says it’s a delicate balance, which led to their visitation policy change. “Really the idea is to reduce the traffic, as we know crowding causes more infections and unfortunately this time the omicron variant is very contagious.”

Visitation for non-COVID patients will be limited to one visitor per day and visitors must be 18 and older. One overnight visitor is allowed for Med/Surg patients and Labor and Delivery but not for ICU. Visiting hours for Med/Surg and the Labor and Delivery units are 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. ICU Visitation is 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Patients with COVID-19 may have one designated visitor for the entire hospitalization. Visitation for these patients is restricted to end-of-life care or special circumstances unless there are mental or physical deficiencies that require a 24-hour caregiver at home prior to hospital admission.

As of last week,  53 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 at Providence – a number that grew by 11 from the week prior. This is still significantly lower than their peak from the delta surge last year on August 17th when they hit 128 patients hospitalized with COVID.

“Our patients have other illnesses not just COVID and we don’t want people suffering from heart attacks and other types of problems, and strokes those are still happening. We don’t want to lose focus on those. So, that’s why we keep flexing our policies.” Iqbal said.

The highly transmissible variant also effects staffing at the hospital. Dr. Iqbal said, “A number of associates are infected, but fortunately it is a short-lived illness in most of these cases and so they are able to come back to work and so we have not had to curtail any services.”

They know this pandemic isn’t over and they can never take their guard down, but they are expecting a decline soon.