RMC COVID ward is empty no more, with two new patients

·2 min read

May 28—Two people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at Anniston's Regional Medical Center Friday morning, a reminder that the pandemic still remains a danger.

The news comes just days after hospital officials announced a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus. RMC's COVID ward was empty briefly after the discharge of a patient on Tuesday.

"It was a short-lived victory, but still a milestone," said Kristin Fillingim, spokeswoman for the hospital.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 323 people in Calhoun County have died of coronavirus. The ongoing vaccination campaign has slowed the spread of the disease considerably. In January, doctors and nurses at RMC struggled with more than 80 coronavirus patients at a time. Through much of May, the average was four or five.

Dr. Raul Magadia, who works with COVID patients at the hospital, said he was happy earlier this week to announce over the hospital's intercom on Tuesday that RMC had reached "code zero" — RMC's shorthand for the long-awaited day when the COVID ward empties. Everyone knew it wouldn't be long before more patients arrived, he said.

Magadia remains upbeat about the state of the fight against the virus.

"We're quite confident that, really, we are on the cusp of a turnaround," he said.

Magadia was among the doctors who warned, over fall and winter, about the dangers of holiday get-togethers and the need to take precautions against the virus. Post-holiday spikes in infection proved that those warnings were well founded. He's less worried about the coming Memorial Day weekend.

"People will be outside barbecuing," he said. "I'm pretty confident, and hopeful, that there won't be a spike."

RMC will send out teams to give vaccines

Interest in vaccination seems to be waning in recent weeks.

Magadia said RMC is trying new ways to get the vaccine to people. The hospital will send a team to give shots to any group that can sign up 10 willing to take them.

"This past weekend we were at Sacred Heart Catholic Church after their Spanish mass," he said. "We vaccinated 72 people there."

One local health care authority, Oxford Health Systems, announced earlier this week that it might take a pass on its next shipment of Pfizer vaccine, out of concern that it might expire before all the shots can be given away.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

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