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Ark. reaches all-time high number of hospitalized COVID patients; many small town hospitals running out of beds

On Aug. 9, 2021, Arkansas reached an all-time high number for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
On Aug. 9, 2021, Arkansas reached an all-time high number for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.(Stock photo)
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 3:53 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 8:03 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Ark. (KSLA) - The State of Arkansas reached its all-time high number of COVID-related hospitalizations Monday, Aug. 9 at nearly 1,400. Many hospitals say they’re running out of beds for patients. It’s especially difficult for small town hospitals, which are at the mercy of larger healthcare facilities for beds.

“We are having to transfer a lot of those patients out and that process is getting increasingly difficult as well,” said Dr. Christopher Stepps, an emergency room physician at Howard Memorial Hospital in Nashville.

Dr. Stepps says emergency room traffic is on the rise at Howard Memorial.

“So it’s been a little bit stressful having to see more and more patients, especially due to this new Delta variant,” Dr. Stepps said.

Howard Memorial is a small facility licensed for 20 beds. Hospital leaders say a large number of their patients are being treated for COVID-19. They say as of Monday, there were only three beds available.

“If we get an ICU bed, we consider ourselves pretty lucky,” said Steven May, director of the hospital’s emergency room. “Massive surge of patients unavailable, transfer anyone within a five-state area.”

According to May, nearly daily, they’re transferring patients to other facilities because of a lack of space. This hospital is the main source of medical care for three counties in southwest Arkansas and officials say the uptick in COVID-19 cases provides different challenges to small town hospitals.

“I think the resources, I think the resources is a big thing, but with this large influx, just concern with the resources available to treat everyone who needs care,” said Dr. Stepps.

Leaders at Howard Memorial say their staff of 60 nurses and eight physicians are keeping up with the increase in positive COVID-19 cases, but with school starting in a few days, they expect the patient count to grow.

“Professional and personal opinion will be to get the vaccine. That’s the best chance we have,” May said.

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