DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — As of right now, Southeast Health has seven patients in the hospital with COVID-19, and over the past two days, the hospital has seen zero coronavirus patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

As of Wednesday, Flowers Hospital had only eight patients in their hospital with COVID-19.

During the height of the last COVID-19 surge in the Wiregrass, Southeast Health brought in help from 20 health care professionals, who were members of the military.

They came in August and stayed for two months, giving relief to nurses and other medical staff who were stretched to the limit.

“Integrated right into our staff and pitched right in with our Southeast Health nurses and employees,” Southeast Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Narby said.

Alabama spent more than $12 million of federal emergency funds to help out with the nursing shortage during August and September when ICU beds were overflowing with COVID-19 patients. That money paid for travel nurses to be brought in to hospitals across the state.

The funding also put a temporary bandage on the nursing shortage the state has seen, but the Alabama Hospital Association no longer has money to bring in medical professionals to hospitals.

While both Southeast Health and Flowers Hospital both still utilize travel nurses, the federally funded ones have left.

If the current drop in COVID-19 cases holds, that might not be a big problem, but the Omicron variant could thrust more patients and perhaps sicker ones back into hospitals.

“We are keeping an eye on things and are ready to respond to whatever may come our way in the future,” Dr. Narby said.

With the new variant just hitting the United States this week, we still don’t know a lot about it, but if it does cause another surge here in Alabama, those travel nurses heading home could become in demand in the not too distant future.