COVID-19 hospitalizations at all time low since pandemic began

COVID-19 hospitalizations at all time low since pandemic began

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Albany is finally down for the first time since March.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 numbers have continued to trend in the right direction. The hospital is now seeing the lowest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Albany since the crisis began.

As of Wednesday, there were 40 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Albany. All but two are currently at Phoebe North.

Phoebe CEO Scott Steiner said they’re working to prepare for a potential resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall, including testing all employees for antibodies, collecting this data, then presenting it next month to see just how many have shown the antibody.

“We have known from the beginning that we were not in this alone. We have truly fought this as a health system, as a community, as Georgians. I couldn’t tell you how proud I am of this group and to be linked arm in arm with everyone," said Steiner.

Steiner said they’re also working on ways to thank the community now, through a Phoebe give back program. This includes raising money to help feed those out of work.

Hospital executives said they will release an updated visitation policy sometime next week.

The Georgia General Assembly will resume session this month and the Phoebe Putney Health System executives worry the hospitals could face budget cuts.

Steiner said state leaders must submit the upcoming year’s proposed balanced budget by July 1. He said as of right now, there’s about a $3.5 billion gap, which means budget cuts will come in many areas.

Steiner said they worry hospitals could see less funding. He said he’s especially concerned the state may cut Medicaid even more.

Right now, Medicaid reimbursements do not pay the full cost of the bill of a patient at Phoebe Putney, so any more cuts will be even more impactful.

“We’re trying to stock up on PPE and medications. Any funding cuts are going to be problematic. We continue to talk to our elected officials and local delegation about other options than cutting an already fragile health care system,” said Steiner.

Steiner said they suggest raising the tobacco tax since Georgia’s is lower than the state average, or dipping into a rainy day fund the state has set up for emergencies, like this.

The hospital system is also working to stock up on more PPE and gear. That’s in case there’s a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall.

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