Rural hospitals in Mississippi are bearing a significant burden in the treatment of coronavirus patients, and some are operating at maximum capacity.
Coronavirus hospitalizations have risen by 136% in two weeks, placing a significant strain on not just the largest medical centers, but also small, rural hospitals.
Doctors and nurses at Field Health System in Wilkinson County are split between a coronavirus wing and standard care. Chief Nursing Officer Nicholas Bryant says this limits the amount of care they can perform and strains the staff. “Obviously you wouldn’t want a nurse caring for a COVID-19 patient and then going into another room and caring for a non-COVID-19 patient just to cut down the risk factor,” says Bryant. “But then there’s always the personal strain. Will I, caring for a patient, then contract the virus? Or have the virus on me when I go home to my family? We go about our daily lives, but it’s a real concern that everyone has.”
Dr. Jay Pinkerton is Chief of Staff at George Regional Health System in Lucedale. He says hospitals from Louisiana are calling, asking if there is any extra space to send overflow coronavirus patients who need intensive care. “That six-bed COVID-19 isolation space today has six patients in it. So I really can’t take another COVID-19 patient from another hospital, and I’m wondering what I do with my very next one out of the ER here, says Dr. Pinkerton. “Where do I create an isolation space for them? Because my COVID-19 unit is full as well.”
State Health officials warn that coronavirus hospital admissions are now at the same levels as the summer’s peak, and say there will likely be an increased number of COVID-19 related deaths reported in Mississippi today.