Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi staff stretched thin due to fighting COVID-19

Published 10:40 am Thursday, August 13, 2020

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been concerned about Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi’s capacity of rooms for patients. But that is of little concern compared to the staff being stretched.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi is a 217-bed acute care facility with medical and surgical specialists in over 30 specialty areas including ER, heart care, cancer care, women’s health, sleep disorders and weight loss.

While the hospital is equipped with the resources and the expertise to address the coronavirus outbreak, Bill Henning, the CEO and Administrator of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, admits that COVID-19 has impacted the way they operate.

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“As with all hospitals in the region, the number of COVID patients has impacted our daily operations, but we are continuing to manage our patient flow,” Henning said. “Over the last several weeks, we have averaged about 40 COVID inpatients per day.”

Henning says that the hospital has plenty of beds for COVID patients and non-COVID patients. They’ve even converted several of their inpatient units to accommodate just COVID patients. However, it’s not the number of patient rooms that he is concerned about.

“Overall, the hospital capacity is affected from the standpoint of patient rooms and staffing,” Henning said. “While we have plenty of patient rooms, our staff is being stretched. As the amount of infection in the community increases, our hospital staff is at risk just like everybody else. For example, if a Baptist staff member has someone in their family who is diagnosed with the virus, we have to put the employee on medical furlough due to close contact and exposure. At any given time, we have 12 to 20 staff members who are on furlough until they are able to return to work. Obviously, this impacts the workload of the hospital, but our staff has done a great job of helping to work extra shifts to fill the openings.”

While the staff at Baptist seems to be stretched thin, it hasn’t impacted the level of care that patients receive.

“Our staff is definitely stretched but we are still providing excellent care to our patients,” Henning said. “Most importantly, in the case of an emergency, please come to the Emergency Room. We have not and will not turn anyone away. Not coming to the hospital could be deadly, especially in the case of a suspected heart attack or stroke, where time is of the essence when it comes to treatment.”

Henning wants to remind the community that while Baptist is able to take care of patients, both with COVID and without, that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t protect themselves.

“Please remember to follow CDC and Mississippi Department of Health guidelines to limit your potential exposure to the virus,” he said. “If you begin to develop symptoms, please immediately contact your family physician.”