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Statewide bed shortage impacts Washington Co. hospital

Washington County Hospital says a patient in need of emergency surgery last weekend had to travel 175 miles away for care in Florida. That’s a three-hour ride. A case like that normally would be transferred to Mobile, which is just a little over an hour away.

“We wound up in Fort Walton the other day. There was no bed available in the state of Alabama,” said Director of Nursing Nicki McKee. “There was nowhere in Mobile that we could find. We tried Birmingham, most of the ones that we typically call. We wound up kind of going off script and started calling around in Alabama, Mississippi. Technically, she’s probably the first patient we’ve ever sent to Fort Walton Beach, Florida.”

McKee says patients requiring a higher level of care have to be transferred from their rural hospital. She says having to scramble to find a bed impacts the level of care a patient receives.

“It is kind of scary because we are stuck with patients that we typically would not keep, and we want to get them the best care possible, and then trying to explain to a family member that you know, that’s just not possible,” said McKee.

“You’re talking about strokes and heart attacks and bad car accidents or bad orthopedic breaks,” said hospital CEO Teresa Grimes.

Grimes says they’re in uncharted territory.

“We’re seeing more admissions in our hospital. We’re seeing more in emergency rooms than we’ve ever seen before. So this second wave definitely has impacted us with larger volumes,” said Grimes.

NBC 15 News
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