Baptist remains on high alert as COVID patients numbers decrease

Published 11:25 am Friday, September 24, 2021

Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi is experiencing a decline in COVID-19 patients, but the hospital remains on high alert in case of a resurgence.

“The current Code D status allows the hospital to make adjustments in regulatory requirement areas, such as how nurses document care and convert spaces to accommodate more patients,” said Bill Henning, CEO and administrator. “We also have a contingency plan in place, which allows us to cross-use staff, spaces and resources to handle any COVID-19 patients as we continue to care for our normal patients.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,505 more cases of COVID-19, 30 deaths, and 92 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Mississippi. The state’s totals are 482,902 cases and 9,425 deaths. As of Sept. 24, 1,292,990 persons have been fully vaccinated.

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Lafayette County has 23 new COVID-19 cases. There have been no deaths, LTC facility outbreak or LTC facility deaths reported in the county. The county’s totals are 8,241 cases, 137 deaths, 199 long-term care facility outbreaks and 56 long-term care facility deaths.

As of Friday, Spet. 24, Baptist Memorial has 10 COVID patients in the ICU and seven patients on ventilators.

Henning said while COVID-19 volumes are down from where they were last month, the combination of COVID and non-COVID patients are higher than usual. Changes in hospital volumes for COVID-19 follow a two-week delay in cases reported by the state. 

While state case data began to decline in the third week of August, the hospital started seeing a decline in the last 10 days, according to Henning.

In August, the state, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the MSDH helped deploy over 1,000 healthcare workers to hospitals across Mississippi. BMHNM requested 30 nurses to assist them with the hospital’s strained healthcare system.

“These nurses provided by the Mississippi Emergency Management Association have made a tremendous difference and been a great support to our team,” said Henning. “The extra relief has been a boost to our nurses and other health care providers who have worked tirelessly to fight this pandemic for the last 18 months.”

Baptist also received a 50-bed mobile hospital that would allow them to care for additional patients if they gained the necessary number of staff members to open it. However, the hospital has decided to work within their wall and convert other spaces, such as our outpatient recovery areas, to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients, according to Henning.

“While the mobile unit is still an option, as long as we can meet the community and patients’ needs within the walls of our hospital, we will continue to do so,” he said.

Henning praised the staff for the hardwork and dedication they have given to the hospital and the patients.

“We are proud of our team’s response and steadfastness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Considering where we were and what we knew about this disease at the start of the pandemic to where we are today, we have made quick and significant progress — from testing, in-hospital treatments, outpatient treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, and prevention strategies. Despite the tragedies our staff members have seen, they remain resilient and [committed] to providing compassionate and quality care.”