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RMC ER 'overrun' with patients wanting COVID tests

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The emergency room at Regional Medical Center in Anniston is “overrun” with people wanting to be tested for COVID-19, according to Michele Ford, director of education and infection prevention at RMC.

RMC officials are urging people instead to use primary care physicians as a first resort for COVID-19 testing and non-emergencies.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 39 patients in the ER, 16 of whom were waiting to be admitted to the hospital. Of those, six were COVID patients, and two of those were waiting for COVID ICU beds, according to Ford, who spoke at a virtual press conference Thursday afternoon.

Some of those wanting COVID tests have symptoms, but others do not. “They say they need to have a test so they can return to work,” Ford said. “The ER is not the place for these people to go to receive a COVID test.”

The ER at RMC is not equipped for such a high volume of COVID testing and it is running low on testing supplies, Ford said. As of Thursday afternoon, the hospital had only enough testing supplies for the next three-and-a-half days.

For those who simply need a COVID test, Ford offered two options: the RMC Oxford Mediplex or the Calhoun County Department of Health.

The Oxford Mediplex offers COVID testing by appointment Monday-Friday; call 256-235-5600.

The Calhoun County Health Department offers free COVID testing from 9-11 a.m. Monday-Friday, no appointment needed. “You may have to wait, however it beats waiting in the ER for 10 hours,” Ford said.

Call the health department at 256-237-7523 for more information.

As of Thursday morning, 48 patients were hospitalized at RMC for COVID-19; 14 of those were in the ICU, and 12 of those were on ventilators, Ford said.

The majority of those hospitalized were not vaccinated. Only one COVID patient was fully vaccinated, and six were partially vaccinated, she added.

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.