Morgan County to get more ICU beds, Madison County continues construction of versatile hospital wing

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – During Wednesday’s Huntsville-area COVID-19 briefing, Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said Madison County’s case rates and hospitalizations seemingly flattened. But there have been a few bumps in the road.

The Huntsville Hospital System is making a few changes to alleviate stress in North Alabama hospitals. 

More than a week ago, Decatur-Morgan Hospital announced it was overwhelmed with ICU patients and would be creating an external COVID-19 unit at the hospital’s Parkway campus.

Spillers said Madison County doesn’t need that assistance as of yet, but new construction will alleviate the problem before it surfaces.

“We’re building a new bed tower. It’s gonna have 72 beds, which is going to create a lot of capacity here at Huntsville,” Spillers said. “And one of the unique things about the Huntsville campus is when we build new bed towers including the bed tower what we call Madison Street tower, all of those rooms are ICU capable beds.”

Spillers says the tower rooms will also have negative pressure function.

Just down the highway, Decatur-Morgan is requesting FEMA funds to construct an additional ICU unit in its main hospital.

“We have some space because of the renovations we’ve done over the past few years. There’s some vacant space that makes it ideal to add additional ICU beds. So that’s why we’re adding those. We have to. We have the ability, we have the space and we have the need,” Spillers said.

On Wednesday, Spillers said a number of hospital staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and have taken off from work. With all of the coming additions, the hospital system will have to hire nurses to staff the units.

“You know we’re holding our own recruiting. We had a lot of nursing schools. Nurses come out in the summer and they’re coming out of orientation and starting to get on the floors and treat patients,” he said. “I would tell you it’s a difficult environment to recruit now. Right now, all over the country there’s a shortage of nurses.

Spillers said the hiring process is active, with priority in the Decatur facilities since they’re facing a bigger struggle with the virus. He’s confident over time, and hopefully, by the time the Madison Street Bed Tower is complete, it won’t be as difficult to make new hires.