Alabama children's hospital ED seeing more than 200 patients a day

Children's of Alabama hospital in Birmingham is experiencing an "unusually large volume" of patients in its emergency room, with more than 200 patients a day. 

"We certainly have seen an unusually large volume of patients for this time of year," Shaundra Blakemore, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician, said in a Sept. 6 update posted on the hospital's Facebook page. "Part of that is school coming back in session so kids are interacting with each other more and spreading different viruses," she said, adding that COVID-19 is "still a big player in our increasing numbers." 

More than 12,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in Alabama last month, according to data from the state's health department cited by Children aged 5 to 11 accounted for most of those cases, followed by children aged 12 to 17. 

The high volumes are causing long wait times in the ED at Children's of Alabama, particularly for patients who are not considered severe or in need of immediate care, hospital officials said. 

"We want to make sure we're seeing patients in the order of how sick they are and if there's so many patients in the waiting room, sometimes sicker children can also be waiting a very long time, which can be dangerous," Dr. Blakemore said. 

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