Emergency departments see long wait times, high census numbers

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:13 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - As hospitalizations in Arkansas reached a record-breaking number since March 2020, emergency departments in Jonesboro are overwhelmed with high census numbers.

NEA Baptist and St. Bernards Medical Center both say the high volumes are a combination of COVID-positive patients and other emergencies.

NEA Baptist Marketing Director Ty Jones says their emergency department is the busiest it’s ever been.

“We saw 4500 patients for the month of July which is close to impossible to manage with just 21 beds in our emergency department,” Jones said.

With the help of adding another provider, Jones added the department has been managing their volume by prioritizing their triage for people with urgent medical needs.

At St. Bernards, patients have had to wait as long as 8 hours to get a hospital bed, according to one anonymous source.

Carmen Smith, the emergency department director at St. Bernards, said their long wait times come from short staffing impacted by the national nursing shortage.

“We do have competent staff that [is] ready and willing to take care of them,” Smith said, “We’re doing everything we can to get patients through the process.”

Both hospitals mentioned not to worry about ED wait times if you are experiencing emergent symptoms, such as “chest pain”, shortness of breath, or unresponsiveness.

However, if you do not need to seek immediate care, you are encouraged to visit your local urgent care.

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