JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It’s a lagging indicator but after we see high case numbers, we typically see increased hospitalizations and the state is now seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients entering the hospitals statewide.
This tweet from the State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs states that 26 hospitals in the state are on diversion for critically ill patients.
“That’s about a quarter of our hospitals that normally would be able to treat patients for acute medical surgical conditions but now they’re not able to do that,” explained Richard Roberson, Mississippi Hospital Association General Counsel and Vice President for Policy and State Advocacy. “They’re not able to accept those transfers.”
Despite mentions from health leaders and the governor recently that the ICU usage seemed down, that too is up and surpassing the levels of the summer surge for both COVID and non-COVID patients. That’s something that smaller hospitals like South Sunflower County Hospital are seeing.
“Right now in our hospital, our most critical patients are actually non-COVID patients,” described South Sunflower County Hospital RN Mackenzie Cousino. “And we’re having a difficult time transferring those patients out because all the beds are full in the state. We have transferred to North Mississippi, South Mississippi, to Jackson and out of state also. Tennessee, Arkansas, they’ve been good to work with us also.”
They’re feeling those effects within the hospital.
“If we can keep them in the ER and transfer faster, we prefer to do that rather than admit to the hospital,” said Cousino. “It might be several days before we can get them transferred out.”
Meanwhile the governor noting that all hospitals must reserve 10 percent capacity for COVID patients and threatening to again shutdown elective procedures.
“If things get worse and our hospital capacity becomes even more of an issue… this is the first place I’m going to tighten.”
The Mississippi Hospital Association’s response?
“To tighten the controls on hospitals… We don’t have socialized medicine but that seems like the government telling hospitals now what they’re going to do when they’ve already done everything they can and they are under a duty and obligation as physicians to treat patients,” said Richard Roberson.
Some hospitals in the state are already limiting elective procedures and are managing their capacity on their own. The governor made note of that in yesterday’s briefing but said that’s not the case everywhere.