DCH Health System continues to see a significant impact from COVID-19 with patients overwhelming local emergency rooms.

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While COVID-19 inpatient counts have declined in recent weeks, record numbers of patients are seeking treatment at the ER. DCH Health Systems Vice President of Marketing and Communications Andy North says its hospitals are in constant communication with local EMS personnel, providing updates on capacity issues.

"At times, when the hospital has been very busy, DCH has asked EMS to take out of county patients to other hospitals if an appropriate level of care at another facility is available. Overall hospital volumes and discharges have a direct impact on our ER capacity and these are constantly changing, so the status of asking EMS to not bring out of county patients, if possible, can change daily or even hourly," North said.

North said hospitals continue to see many COVID-19 patients in addition to their regular patient loads, leading to long wait times at emergency rooms.

"We are doing the best we can to prioritize care based on the severity of each patient’s condition and could use the community’s help to self-prioritize prior to coming to the ER. Please use primary care or an urgent care if you don’t have an emergency," North said.

Examples of emergency conditions include:

  • A deep cut or bleeding that will not stop
  • Chest pain or stroke symptoms such as face dropping
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Fainting or head injury
  • Bone break or fracture
  • Serious burns
  • Snake bites

Conditions that can be treated by primary care or urgent care facilities include:

  • Allergies, sinus infections, flu or cold
  • Fever, sore throat, minor lacerations or injuries, physicals, or TB testing 

"Most primary care and urgent care facilities also offer COVID-19 testing," North said.

West Alabamians can also reduce the strain placed upon the healthcare system by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. DCH continues to operate its remote vaccination clinic at the laundry lot of DCH Regional Medical Center; appointments are available Fridays between 7:00 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.

More information on the COVID-19 vaccination clinic can be found here.

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