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Alabama Hospital Diaries: Doctors On The Frontline Of The Latest COVID Surge


In Alabama this week, hospital officials said they don't have enough ICU beds to care for all the patients who need one. The latest COVID surge is straining hospitals across the South and has left health care workers exhausted. We have the voices of three doctors in Alabama, which has among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

ALI HASSOUN: This is Dr. Ali Hassoun. I'm an infectious disease specialist in Huntsville, Ala. I was supposed to be off for the last two days. But because of the surge in COVID-19, I have been working for almost three weeks now daily. The hospital's getting full. There's shortage of nurses. It's very hard to keep health care professional continue doing what they supposed to do with community is not doing their part.

CYNTHIA RENEE CROWDER-HICKS: Hi. This is Cynthia Renee Crowder-Hicks, and I'm one of the pulmonary and sleep medicine doctors here at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic. This fourth wave being preventable is challenging. The majority of our population is unvaccinated. And when you look at the patients, they're scared, and they're by themselves. They have no one to hold their hands or to talk to them. The more anxious they are, the less they're able to breathe. They all cry.

NANCY TOFIL: My name is Nancy Tofil, and I work primarily in the pediatric intensive care at Children's of Alabama. And ever since this delta variant became so prominent, we've seen a huge increase in the number of COVID patients. The other thing that seems to be different now is children are getting much more sick with COVID. Almost all of these families have some regret about not getting vaccinated.

HASSOUN: You feel sorry for those who believe this misinformation. But at the same time, you see patient so saying there is no COVID. We don't believe there's these problems, and we're not interested in vaccination.

CROWDER-HICKS: It just - it blows my mind that we have gotten to this point. Nobody feels that they're giving optimal care. We are overworked, and we are frustrated. You know, I'm tired of my 47-year-olds dying. That was my day today. It's terrible.

MARTINEZ: Mary Scott Hodgin of member station WBHM in Birmingham brings us those voices. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.