DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Alabama is inching closer to breaking another COVID-19 record, this time with the number of hospitalizations. The question now is, how is Southeast Health keeping up with the current surge.

With hospitalizations across the state continuing to rise due to the omicron variant, the Chief Medical Officer for Southeast Health, Dr. George Narby said they are seeing an increase but these patients aren’t as sick and leaving the hospital sooner.

“The total number of people requiring hospitalizations and hospital care is going to continue to rise and may even exceed the previous surges and that is what we are seeing now,” Dr. Narby said.

During the Delta surge, Southeast Health saw a peak of 128 COVID patients and as of Wednesday, the hospital has 108 COVID patients in its hospital, data showing the hospital is inching towards previously seen record levels.

“The pressures wax and wane depending on how many patients we have in the hospital and certainly right now we are stressed,” Dr. Narby said.

Narby said being in the middle of the now fifth COVID surge has its advantages. In that hospital staff has been able to learn and adapt when caring for patients during these crucial times, an experience that is useful especially now.

“We are seeing a significant number of staff members having to miss work because they are infected and having COVID symptoms,” Dr. Narby said.

Doctor Narby tells WDHN at this time he doesn’t see the need for bringing in help from the federal government as happened late last summer, but he said that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be any less concerned. Omicron is infecting people differently than we’ve seen previously, which is why everyone needs to remain cautious.

“The fact that the patients are less ill and don’t need as many resources,” Dr. Narby said. “The fact that is intensive care units are not strained because of COVID.”

Keeping hospitalizations and ICU visits as low as possible is why medical experts are emphasizing the importance of masks and vaccinations.

“Vaccinations greatly reduce your chances of getting hospitalized with omicron or even dying with omicron,” Dr. Narby said.

Dr. Narby also said a positive thing about omicron is it seems to be a strain that comes on quickly and then leaves quickly. This gives medical experts hope that the peak in Alabama could be soon.