Magnolia Regional Medical Center has a small COVID-19 case load at the moment, but is finding that prospects for transferring patients to other facilities are narrowing.
"We currently have the resources to care for the patients with the limiting factor being staff. We are like literally every hospital in the nation with staffing already being stretched thin before the pandemic and it continues to get more so. It will make it even more difficult to staff if the new wave of COVID cases grows much more," MRMC Chief Executive Officer Rex Jones said in an email exchange with magnoliareporter.com.
"Our concern, felt in every hospital across the state, is that the hospitals and specifically ICU's are already reaching bed limits making it difficult to make any transfers for critical patients," he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, MRMC had two patients with COVID-19. Neither require ventilators. There was only one COVID case in the hospital a week ago, and none a month ago. MRMC's COVID-19 peak moment was in mid-December, when it had 11 COVID patients, including three on ventilators.
"We are encouraging anyone who did not choose to take the vaccine previously to reconsider taking the vaccine. It important to discuss this with your healthcare provider and make an educated decision with them on the risk and benefits of taking the vaccine," Jones said.
"This new variant is much more virulent and easier to catch and spread. We do not want to overload our healthcare delivery system and the best way to do your part as a citizen is to consider taking the vaccine," he said.
Jones emphasizes that the greatest concern at present may be an inability to find beds where critically ill patients may be transferred.
"We have a great loyal and dedicated staff but the healthcare system in Arkansas is going to be tested again and MRMC is not immune to the stresses we are going to go through with this new wave," Jones said.
Hospital procedures are largely the same today as when Arkansas imposed restrictions on gatherings in March of last year.
"We didn't really get much relief from the first wave and went right into the second almost as quickly so there wasn't a lot of time to relax our procedures much. We are continuing to do outpatient testing and surgical procedures at this time and are not able to relax the mask restrictions.
"We will continue to do screening for all staff, patients, and visitors that come to the facility," Jones said.