Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox was once again joined by Druid City Regional Hospital’s Dr. Timothy Lovely and Dr. Robin Wilson on Friday afternoon to discuss the hospital’s current situation.
The main takeaway from both doctors was clear: Do not be afraid to go to the hospital for non-coronavirus-related issues. Even though hospitals across the nation are facing a lack of resources, this does not mean that they want patients in need to put off their necessary visits. This has already been an issue observed by Lovely.
“One thing we’re worried about now is we’ve seen the ER volumes go way down, so people aren’t coming to the ER,” Lovely said. “What we’re afraid of is that when we do hit this peak, we’ll be right by the time when these people with chronic medical illnesses have reached a tipping point where they can’t wait anymore, and they have to come to the ER. Then they’re having to come at the time when everything is at its worst possible scenario.”
According to data collected by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s coronavirus task force, the state currently has access to 12,585 hospital beds. If citizens partake in limited action and do not follow current lockdown and social distancing measures in place, hospitals statewide could see an overload within the next two weeks and would need about 60,000 additional beds by mid-May. If the state and local statutes are enforced, hospitals won’t see an overload until late May, with a significantly lower need for beds throughout the summer.
Each day, Tuscaloosa and the surrounding state are taking action to gather more resources and set up more makeshift hospital spaces wherever they can.
“We still have lots of opportunities to care for all those other patients,” Wilson said. “It [serves] a dual purpose, and we just want to encourage the citizens to realize that. Don’t forgo other reasons to come to the emergency room or to your doctor’s office or to the hospital. We have beds, we have physicians, we have staff, and we’re there to take care of your needs.”
Despite dire circumstances, staff members are optimistic about their ability to help those in need of any services and want to do so before things potentially get worse.
“The message we want to send is that you’re safe,” Lovely said. “Anybody that has a cough or cold symptoms is behind closed doors, and they go through a completely separate entrance. If you come to the ER for, you know, your normal medical problems or heart failure, or your chest pain or your belly pain, don’t be afraid to come to the ER. It’s safe. We’re as safe as anybody in the country, and we’ll have you taken care of safely and quickly, and we have plenty of staff that can take care of you.”
Lovely and Wilson warned that those who put off a hospital visit could be in a much more dangerous situation if they wait, due to a projected peak in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks.
“Please don’t forego your ongoing current chronic disease conditions,” Wilson said. “We’re here to serve you and take care of those needs as well, and we don’t want you to think you’re doing the best thing for yourself by delaying that. In fact, in the long run, you may wind up having an increased burden of disease, which is unfortunate, out of either fear or just not wanting to challenge us. Please don’t forego your needs, and we want you to come to DCH.”
The full livestream can be found here on the City of Tuscaloosa’s Facebook page.