With Miss. healthcare system overwhelmed with new admissions, leaders search for ways to keep going

Activating crisis standard of care

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi’s already full hospitals have seen record numbers of COVID-19 admissions in recent days. And health leaders continue to search for ways to keep the system going.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweeted this on Christmas Eve.

You’ve heard the warnings, Mississippi’s healthcare system is being stretched. And as Dr. Jennifer Bryan explains “crisis standards of care” isn’t like flipping a light switch. Care isn’t suddenly abnormal. She notes that it’s been an evolving crisis for months.

“Care is not going to go away,” explained Mississippi State Medical Association Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Jennifer Bryan. “But we have to be creative in how we do it in timing will be important.”

Mississippi’s biggest resource concern is people. The staffing shortages don’t allow for easy answers. For example, a field hospital doesn’t help if there aren’t nurses and doctors available to staff it. While there won’t be one size fits all answers, there are guidelines.

“There’s history in these type situations and the American Medical Association has a code of ethics,” described Bryan. “And within that code of ethics, it lays out crisis standards of care and some of that does involve rationing healthcare...which is a word that none of us even wanna talk about or hear but these are things that we were looking at and talking about. Institutions need to have ethics panels that can be consult it in the situations.”

Bryan says it could mean a delay in certain treatments or being forced to transfer patients who wouldn’t typically be treated at another location.

“Crisis standards of care that’s like a buzzword or zing word that scares people and all,” noted Bryan. “But it’s common sense if you think about it. A resource that is overwhelmed can only do what it can do. And we are going to continue to do our best to give everybody the very best medical care. We’re going to show up. We’re going to take care of folks. We’ve got our critical care folks ready to go but we need a dose of patience with expectations.”

We do anticipate hearing more on the current status of operations from both the Department of Health and at least one of the state’s larger hospitals later this week in press conferences.

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