By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 19, 2018

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - North Alabama Medical Center is busier than ever since it moved two miles to a new $230 million building.

The hospital has set records for numbers of surgeries and emergency room visits since the Dec. 6 move, Chief Operating Officer Mike Howard told the Times Daily of Florence.

The emergency room has sometimes seen nearly 160 patients a day, and it handled a record 50 surgeries the day after the move, he said.

One day, he said, the hospital held 245 patients, causing “a little bit of backup, so we did have some patients we held in the ER and we apologize for that. I appreciate everyone’s support of this hospital as we grow into this new building.”

Florence resident Christine Lonzo said she faced long waits, sparse staff and poor communication when she went to the emergency department with complications from an accidental injury.

Hospital officials said patient confidentiality keeps them from commenting on the claims, but there had not been any complaint filed about the allegations as of Tuesday.

Howard said there’s no specific reason for the high demand.

“We’re not in flu season yet, thankfully,” Howard said. “I think what we’re seeing really is just an expanded area of patients than what we’d had. Our location and just the draw of the new hospital and all of our specialties have really pushed them to come here, and we appreciate that.”

Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield also is seeing large numbers of patients, including many with upper respiratory ailments.

“We’re close to capacity and are always looking for ways to increase (bed) capacity,” said Tina Weeks, Keller Hospital’s director of business development and marketing.

She said that isn’t unusual for this time of year.

North Alabama Medical Center now has 15 operating rooms, up from 10 at the old hospital, and 38 emergency room beds, up from 21.

Howard said waiting times have varied during high-demand times.

“Any time is too long in our opinion, but it happens,” he said. “The good news is the ER is better than the old one as everyone has a room, door and TV. We expected a lot of growth, and expect that to continue on, but we do appreciate everybody’s understanding.”


Information from: TimesDaily,

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