Jonesboro hospitals ready in case of COVID-19 surge

Jonesboro hospitals ready in case of surge of COVID-19 cases

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - COVID-19 cases continue to increase across Arkansas with over 700 new cases reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the state saw a record number of people hospitalized.

A recent report released by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences showed by the end of October, if things continue on their current tract, there will be 150,000 active COVID-19 cases in Arkansas.

It also projected hospitalizations at nearly 2,800 with more than 800 people in intensive care.

So, are hospitals ready for a surge if it were to happen?

“I believe we are,” said Jodiane Tritt, executive vice president of the Arkansas Hospital Association. “As long as we continue to be able to get testing supplies in our state. As long as we’re able to get PPE in our state. As long as we’re able to keep our healthcare workers safe so we don’t run a shortage on staff.”

She said hospitals in the northeast region of the state have worked hard to prepare for a possible surge.

“They’ve talked about testing, they’ve talked about treatment, how they would triage patients, how they would share patients, how they would make sure that the patients who needed the most intensive care can be seen in Jonesboro,” Tritt said.

Angie Smith, vice president of nursing services at St. Bernards Medical Center, said while they have not seen a surge they are prepared if there is one. One way they’ve done so is by increasing ICU capacity.

“Our current ICU capacity is 46 beds,” Smith said. “We’ve made accommodations to expand that to an additional 46 beds.”

It is in the first tier of St. Bernards’ three-tier approach when it comes to surge capacity.

“That number is fluid, it changes based on the patient population and the needs daily, and in our equipment ,” Smith said. “But we’re prepared to take it upwards to the hundreds.”

At NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, CEO Sam Lynd said they have 36 ICU beds but can expand if needed.

“We feel confident that we’ve got staff to go beyond that 36 number so even if we’ve got to go outside the regular confines of the ICU we think we can,” Lynd said.

NEA Baptist can also get help from the other hospitals in the Baptist Group.

“We have a lot of different markets that experience different things at different times, which allows us to shift resources,” Lynd said.

Tritt said Northeast Arkansas can also draw resources from Arkansas State University’s nursing program and medical school, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State.

“And if you needed to scale up and increase your staffing and increase your bed capacity and those kinds of things, Northeast Arkansas has got a real winning combination,” Tritt said.

All three individuals agreed that people in the community have an opportunity to make sure we don’t see a surge, by wearing masks, remaining socially distant, and making sure we don’t spread the virus to our neighbors.

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