Baptist feeling fifth wave pressure as cases climb, but ready to serve

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi is feeling the pressure from the fifth wave of COVID-19 cases as they spread rapidly through Mississippi.

As the Omicron variant overwhelms most of the nation, hospitals across the state are seeing an influx of patients.

Health officials’ concerns grow for the state of the healthcare system as numbers continue to increase. On Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 695 COVID positive individuals were hospitalized Sunday.

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As of Sunday, Baptist has 28 confirmed patients with three adult patients in the intensive care unit. There are 23 staffed beds and five ICU beds available.

“Even though we see an uptick in the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant in the community, we have not made any operational changes, which were necessary during previous waves,” siad Bill Henning, Baptist North Mississippi CEO and Administrator.

The MSDH also reported 17,525 COVID cases from Thursday, Dec. 30 to Sunday, Jan. 2. According to AP News, these were the highest numbers reported by the MSDH in months. Lafayette County has gained 349 cases during the same period, averaging 87 per day.

The state epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers, had said last Wednesday that Mississippi is headed into “a fifth wave of COVID.” Cases in the state rose rapidly with the spread of the delta variant of the virus in July and August, overwhelming the staffing and resources of some hospitals.

According to Henning, although Baptist is experiencing the same wave, employees will do all that they can to serve their patients.

“The hospital staff, like all hospitals in the region, are feeling the pressure of this wave,” said Henning. “However, our facility and team members remain ready to take care of the community.”

Research shows that the Omicron variant is more resistant to boosters, antibody treatments and vaccines. However, experts still recommend treatments and boosters to reduce the possibility of severe symptoms or death.

Baptist urges everyone to follow CDC guidelines to prevent exposure, to get vaccinated or boosted if eligible and to follow the appropriate guidelines if you are exposed or become ill.

Henning said the hospital follows the approved guidelines, which includes both care for the patients symptoms and the use of medications such as Remdesivir for patients admitted to the hospitals. 

“As oral antiviral medications become available through the Department of Health, the hospital will also utilize this option for its patients,” he said.

Due to the recent sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and the extreme contagiousness of the latest COVID-19 variant, the public is asked to only use the emergency department for situations they consider urgent or emergent.

Baptist urges anyone who is feeling unwell, in need of a COVID test or having any other healthcare needs to schedule an appointment with their primary care physician or visit an urgent care center.

“If you are feeling generally unwell, need a COVID-19 test or have other health care needs, please schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or consider visiting an urgent care center,” said Henning. “If you haven’t already gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, please make an effort to get it.” 

Baptist also continues to monitor the Mississippi Department of Health for any directives regarding the omicron variant.