Hospital leaders explain why “COVID-19 System of Care” impacts more than just COVID patients

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 8:42 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Hospitals filling up means a change in the way those doctors and nurses can take care of you.

“It really has just created a quagmire for us to be able to get patients where they need to be,” explained hospital administrator at Lackey Memorial Hospital Sydney Sawyer.

That’s why the State Health Officer issued this order Wednesday. It puts the COVID-19 system of care in place till August 15.

“What we were doing a week ago was if I would call hospital A, and if they didn’t have a bed, I’d have to pick the phone up and call hospital B,” noted Sawyer. “But this actually just allows us to call the Med-Com number and tell them what we have.”

It’s relieving stresses of a small hospital like Lackey Memorial in Forest. But it puts those hospitals that are required to take transfers in a tight position.

“You know, we in normal times, we don’t have to take the patient because we don’t have room to take care of them,” described Dr. Steven Farrell, Forrest General Hospital Chief Medical Officer. “Well, now, no one has room to take care of them. And so everyone gets to put an extra patient in a hallway or in a bed; they don’t want to overcrowd their patients even more. So I think it is necessary. And I think the State Department health is doing everything they can to try and make it better.”

King’s Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven says it comes at a time they’re already stretched thin.

“Probably, early next week, we’ll implement a scarce resource’s policy here,” explained KDMC CEO Alvin Hoover. “Because we won’t have staff in we’re not able to make transfers. That’s gonna be a very difficult time for us. And, you know, when Med-Com calls you and says, we need you to take these patients, you’re taking those patients whether you’ve got beds whether you’ve got staff or not. It’s very, very difficult.”

That staffing piece is an issue at the majority of the state’s hospitals.

“We have in excess of 250 openings for nurses only at our hospital,” said Forrest General Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Farrell.

But as they watch the case numbers rise, they know that will mean increased hospitalizations are still to come.

“I’m just worried about how bad it’s going to be,” added Hoover. “If it’s this bad, this fast, this early.”

The other half of the order for hospitals takes effect Sunday, August 1. It requires any elective procedures that require overnight hospitalization to be delayed. That’s in effect till August 15. Again, in an effort to keep more beds open.

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