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UMMC works to prevent further capacity constraints amid record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations

(Melanie Thortis/UMMC Photography | UMMC)
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The University of Mississippi Medical Center said Monday that its beds are full, and it’s operating at negative capacity.

As of this morning, UMMC had 141 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 22 children. More than 90% of those patients are not vaccinated.

With the Mississippi Department of Health reporting nearly 8,000 new COVID-19 cases from over the weekend alone, UMMC is bracing for more hospitalizations.

Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian Response Organization, is setting up a field hospital in a UMMC parking garage to lend a helping hand.

“I don’t have to tell you Mississippi’s undergoing a massive COVID-19 outbreak,” Samaritan’s Purse Team Lead Elliott Tenpenny said. “UMMC here has met its capacity. The whole state has really.”

It’s the second field hospital deployed in a UMMC garage within a week. It’s expected to be completed this week and will serve up to 32 patients at a time.

“There’s going to be massive numbers that continue on, unfortunately,” Tenpenny said. “But we’re trying to do what we can to take care of the most amount of people here in Mississippi that we can.”

The medical center is also opening a monoclonal antibody clinic Tuesday in its other field hospital. UMMC’s chief administrative officer, Dr. Jonathan Wilson, said the treatment is proven to keep patients out of the hospital once they get the virus.

“It just gives our immune system an extra boost, specifically for the COVID virus,” Dr. Wilson said. “That’s how it’s able to help slow down and decrease the number of admissions that come from an infection.”

Wilson said patients must get the treatment within ten days of showing symptoms and meet at least one of the risk factors listed on UMMC’s website.

“Whether you’re having a bad case or not, I would recommend going ahead and getting monoclonal antibody before it gets worse,” Dr. Wilson said. “Once you get to the point that you require hospitalization or require oxygen therapy, we can’t give it.”

He said the treatment can either be given through an IV infusion or a subcutaneous injection. Following the treatment, there’s a one-hour observation time to make sure the patient doesn’t have any complications.

“In states like ours that have such a high case rate, we’re trying to prevent the high hospitalization numbers that would typically follow, so that’s how we can try to blunt the increase with the use of monoclonal antibodies,” Dr. Wilson said.

The monoclonal antibody treatment is available whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Before receiving the treatment, patients must book an appointment on UMMC’s website.

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