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Montgomery doctor urges caution

A Montgomery doctor spoke about being cautious as COVID-19 cases begin to stabilize but still remain dangerous.

Dr. Nina Garrett joined Sen. Doug Jones in a Facebook Live press conference last Thursday to discuss the region’s numbers and urge residents to remain cautious.

“We are having some troubling times here in Montgomery,” she said. “We have seen a surge in cases. Primarily since the Memorial Day holiday. We also noticed, unfortunately that a lot of our citizens – although many are following the guidelines from the CDC about social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks — many are not and community spread is happening.”

Last week, Montgomery’s City Council met and physicians were asked to attend. Many communities have been contacting public health officials for guidance.  For example, in Greenville this week, social clubs have been allowed to meet at Beeland Park under new rules. On Monday as the Lions Club met, tables were spaced apart and only two people could sit at a table at opposite ends. Food serving is also different with disposable plates being packaged for the attendees.

“Unfortunately in Montgomery, the mask requirement was voted down,” Garrett said. “The mayor executed an executive order- which I think was very appropriate and now as of Friday at 5 p.m., face masks will be mandatory in the City of Montgomery. I do believe that will help to mitigate the spread of the disease. It will also allow us as hospital workers a chance to catch our breath.”

Garrett said ICUs in Montgomery are at capacity, something that should worry patients from adjoining counties. Patients from Butler and Lowndes counties are most likely to be hospitalized in Montgomery if ICU care is needed.

“We have taken overflow measures,” Garrett said. “The ERs are capable of taking ventilator patients. We do have patients who are on ventilators in the emergency departments in a couple of our hospitals.  At Baptist South, we do have four ICUs that are COVID only patients. Those ICUs are full right now. We feel as though we can still take care of our community.”

Garrett said hospital administrators had set up contingency plans – to ensure no one goes without care.

“We have ways of managing patients with ventilators and we still have adequate ventilators,” Garrett said. “We will do whatever it takes to manage this problem. However, we do believe that the mask ordinance is so important because it will allow us a chance to breathe. We hope that we will start seeing a decline in the number of positive new cases just with that simple step.”

Garrett said any face covering would help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Something that will allow the flow of any respiratory particles coming from the mouth or the nose,” she said.  “We do know that with simply talking — especially with a cough — the droplets can carry as far as six feet. If you’re yelling or singing it can go as much as 12 feet.”

Garrett said she’s asking for the citizens of Montgomery and the surrounding areas to help them (the medical professionals) with the process.

“Help us make this not as painful,” she concluded. “Wearing a mask is not just for you. It is for your neighbor. It is for your mother, your grandmother; it is also for your healthcare worker. People are putting their lives on the line to take care of our COVID-19 patients. The less we have to face, that’s better for the healthcare community.”