• 84°

Andalusia Health CEO: Half of patients have COVID

Covington County’s total number of COVID cases increased by 214 in the past week, and as of yesterday, there were 34 people hospitalized in Covington County with the virus. Only two of those had been vaccinated.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told reporters Thursday that 95 percent of the state’s ICU beds are occupied, and he expects them to all be full within the next few days.

In Andalusia, Brian Springate, interim CEO of Andalusia Health, said almost half of the hospital’s current census has tested positive for the virus. But staff members are able to manage the caseload at this time, he said.

“Andalusia Health’s top priority continues to be protecting the health and safety of our patients, providers, employees and the communities we serve,” Springate said Thursday. “As reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health, cases of COVID-19 increased state-wide and in Covington County over the last several weeks. With the documented increase in confirmed positive cases, hospitals in our region – including ours – have seen an increase in hospitalizations. At this time, nearly half of our inpatients have tested positive for COVID-19, and in the last several weeks, we have had exponential growth in the number of patients we are caring for both in the hospital and through our emergency department.

Springate said the hospital capacity is incredibly fluid and changes rapidly.

“Our hospital leaders meet daily to discuss hospital operations and current needs,” he said. “We monitor hospital capacity within every department each day, closely tracking fluctuations in emergency, acute and critical care areas and regularly reporting our capacity in these areas to the state and to our regional partners.

“The best defense against COVID-19 is to get a COVID-19 vaccine and encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated,” he said. “At this point, most of the patients we are seeing who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. It is also wise to wear a mask, socially distance from others and practice proper hand hygiene to help slow the spread of illness.”

He also had high praise for hospital employees.

“We could not be prouder of our staff members fighting this battle on the front lines. We are well over a year into this pandemic, and their continued commitment to showing up day-in and day-out to serve our patients is nothing short of heroic,” he said.

The Covington County Health Department will have a walk-in clinic today, Friday, August 13, from 8 a.m. until noon and from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. As he has at several recent vaccine clinics, local florist Alan Cotton, who lost his wife to COVID, will give each person who receives a vaccine a long-stemmed white rose in her memory.

Vaccines also are available at Walmart, CVS and Walgreens. Watch Andalusia Health’s social media pages for announcements of weekly vaccine clinics.