About a week for Huntsville Hospital to prepare for projected coronavirus surge

About a week for Huntsville Hospital to prepare for projected coronavirus surge
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We are a little more than a week away from the projected coronavirus surge in Alabama.

Projections from the University of Washington is updated constantly.

It predicted at least 93 deaths by Saturday. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported exactly 93 deaths on Saturday.

The model predicts that number will double by next week. By the end of May, Alabama could see more than 400 deaths if the model holds true.

Now, you may be asking yourself how hospitals in Alabama can use projection models to prepare. It’s all about the peak date. That’s the day hospitals will need the most amount of resources, like beds and ventilators for coronavirus patients.

Here in Alabama that day is April 19th. If that's accurate, Huntsville Hospital and other hospitals across the state would only have about a week to gather all the supplies it needs.

"I think they are all wrong," Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said during the daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday.

Spillers says he's looked at several projections models for Alabama. The hospital even made it's own projection model. Still, he doesn't believe the information on it is accurate.

"If we keep trending like we are today, we are not going to peak at the end of April," Spillers said.

Doctor Ali Mokdad is the chief strategy officer for population health at the University of Washington. He was part of the team that created this projection model that is now used by the centers for disease control and the white house.

“We are very confident of this average here,” Dr. Mokdad said.

He says he's already seen how these projections can help save lives. After the first coronavirus case and death in the country was confirmed in Washington state, the University of Washington took this information and made changes. It moved its classes online, canceled elective surgeries and started gathering supplies and beds for its hospitals.

“We are now seeing what we are doing in our hospitals what we were doing with this information is helped us a lot to be prepared. We see it. It’s working. What we want for this model is for all country and every state to do exactly the same,” Dr. Mokdad said.

Spillers says they are still preparing for the worst case scenario.

"We're prepared for a massive amount of patients. I don't think we're going to get them," Spillers said.

"We can agree or disagree about numbers. A little bit higher. A little bit lower, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is what are we going to do about this. How can we prevent this disease from circulating or spreading much more. How we can bring it to an end much sooner,“ Dr. Mokdad said.

Despite their disagreement on whether the projection model works or not, both Spillers and Dr. Mokdad can agree that at the end of the day its up to you to stay at home in order to end this pandemic sooner.

"If people will keep doing what they're doing, the numbers are not going to go up," Spillers said.

“We all want to go back to our normal lives. We are all tired of being at home, but we got to hang in there. We have to be serious about it. We have to take care of ourselves and our loved ones," Dr. Mokdad said.

Projections can change depending on certain practices in a state.

For example, before Governor Kay Ivey issued a stay at home order the model projected thousands of deaths and shortages of beds in Alabama. Now that the stay at home order was issued, the number of deaths significantly dropped and hospitals are no longer projected to see a bed shortage.


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