Baptist Memorial works to overcome COVID challenges

Published 10:00 am Friday, August 27, 2021

The rapid increase in cases and spread of the Delta variant has put a strain on staffing and capacity in hospitals all across the state, including Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi.

Earlier this week, Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced during a Board of Alderman special meeting that Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi is in a state of internal disaster due to the surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Mississippi State Department of Health H reports that there are 4,041 more cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, 65 deaths, and 170 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities as of August 26. The state’s totals now stand at 427,640 cases and 8,279 deaths. In addition, 1,147,633 persons are fully vaccinated.

Lafayette County has 37 new cases and no new deaths or LTC facility outbreaks. The county totals are 7,363 cases, 129 deaths and 190 LTC facility outbreaks.

According to CEO and administrator Bill Henning, the hospital is currently in Code D status meaning the hospital is closely monitoring their situation.

“This status also allows the hospital to quickly make adjustments in areas such as nursing documentation requirements, converting beds and units to accommodate more patients,” said Henning. “With our contingency plan in place, we will be able to cross-use staff, space, and resources to handle the surge of COVID-19 patients as we continue to care for our normal patient flow.”

Baptist Memorial is converting other spaces, such as the outpatient recovery areas, to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients. The city of Oxford has requested a mobile hospital, which includes 50 beds, but the hospital needs staff to man it.

“After further discussions with the city and state, it has been determined we will continue with our original plan of working within our hospital’s walls,” said Henning. “If additional staff become available for the field hospital, it could be opened.”

Additionally, Baptist has requested 30 nurses through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to help support and provide relief to our staff, as they continue providing high-quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Tate Reeves announced during his Tuesday morning press conference that over 1,000 healthcare workers were deployed to 61 hospitals statewide to meet the staffing shortages.

On August 25, Mississippi hospitals reported that there are 1,638 patients with confirmed COVID, 45 patients suspected to have COVID, 472 patients in the ICU and 325 patients on ventilators.

“Our top priority is to ensure that every Mississippian who can get better with quality care receives that care,” said Reeves. “We are grateful for those that are answering the call to alleviate the pressure on our healthcare workers. To the current healthcare staff in the state, we thank you for your continued dedication to our fellow Mississippians.”

“[Our staff] have tirelessly worked at a high level for more than 18 months,” said Henning. “We are extremely grateful for our loyal health care team and the additional personnel we are receiving.”

Roberson said Baptist is open to receiving help and additional resources when needed. Baptist is a 22-hospital health care system, which allows it access to a number of resources to help it adjust during high volume periods while continuing to provide quality care. These resources include a surge plan, telemedicine assets, an eICU and access to equipment.

“It is important for the community to know Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi is open and prepared to take care of patients,” said Henning. “Anyone who is having an emergency should come to the hospital immediately. We always have, and we will continue to make a way to care for our community.”