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Coronavirus hospitalizations put strain on healthcare workers
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Outside of UMMC's Emergency Department in Jackson
Kobee Vance, MPB News

Healthcare workers are seeing record rates of the Coronavirus in Mississippi. They say resources are limited and they are being taxed by the sheer volume of COVID-19 patients.

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Hospital beds are filling up with Coronavirus patients, and emergency rooms are giving up space to assist with the high demand for advanced medical care. Thursday saw twelve hundred new Coronavirus cases in Mississippi, the highest reported in a single day. Over the past 8 days, Coronavirus hospitalizations have continued to climb to a record 855. Dr. Andy Willhelm is Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says COVID-19 patients need more than just a ventilator. “What we’re also seeing is kidney failure, so they’re on dialysis. Heart failure, so they’re on medicine to keep their heart-squeezing,” says Dr. Willhelm. “We’re seeing strokes, inflammation of the brain that can cause them to act funny in a delirious sort of way. It’s a multi-organ disease that requires multi-organ support. And I’d say that is life support.”

Dr. Willhelm says some of these ICU stays can last upwards of a month before patients can return to standard medical care.

Dr. Risa Moriarity who is Vice-Chair of Emergency Medicine. To help with th0e patient load, she says they have given up some space in the emergency department to treat COVID-19 patients. She says that means people with other medical needs may not get immediate care. Dr. Moriarity says “We of course don’t want those people to stay home. If they have a serious medical problem we want them to come here. They will be seen. But it is stressing the system, it is making the wait longer for people because we have a whole area now that is dedicated to COVID-19.”

Health officials are already sending some Mississippians out of state for medical care because of the high volume of coronavirus hospitalizations in the state.