Confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus are still on the rise within Tuscaloosa County, placing a tremendous strain on our local health care system.

I had a chance to experience this first-hand over the holiday break when severe chest pain sent me to the Emergency Room of DCH Regional Medical Center.

Being at an emergency room during a pandemic was a surreal experience. There were so many patients seeking medical care that I arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m. on Wednesday and didn't leave until 5 a.m. the following day.

The hospital had divided its waiting rooms into two different areas: one for those who were seeking care for COVID-19 related issues and those who were not. Both areas were full.

I couldn't believe how many people were coming in with symptoms of COVID-19. Doctors and nurses were doing everything they could to treat all patients quickly and efficiently, but with their resources taxed to the max it was impossible to avoid making patients wait.

The wait was frustrating, but I knew that there was nothing the staff could do. If there are no rooms available, where do you place patients? If there is a huge backlog of patients who need lab results reviewed, how can you get through those tests quickly without sacrificing the time to scrutinize each one?

The pandemic is real, and seeing the strain it places on our health care resources first-hand shocked me.

We all need to do our part to prevent the spread of this virus until we can all receive the vaccine. You never know when you or a family member will need to seek care at the hospital, and if we can't stop COVID-19 from infecting more of our community, we're only going to see things get worse.

Please be smart. Be responsible.

And thank you so much to the doctors and nurses. Thank you to all the hospital staff who took care of me and who are literally putting their lives on the line each day to keep us all safe and healthy.

(I am fine by the way; I am following up with a specialist today.)

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