Baptist Hospital-North Mississippi “closely monitoring” COVID-19 patient situation

Mississippi received its highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 108, bringing the state’s total to 485, which is causing concern of overloading healthcare facilities.

One of those facilities is Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, though CEO Bill Henning told the EAGLE the hospital is currently in good shape when it comes to handling an influx of patients.

According to Dr. Jason Waller, chief of staff at Baptist Hospital, 58 people had been tested for COVID-19 as of Tuesday night. Of those, 46 people tested negative, while six tested positive and six more were still pending.

Waller gave Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill and the Board of Aldermen this update during a special meeting called on Wednesday. He also noted that not all of those 58 tests were from people in the Oxford community.

Hospitals across the country are struggling to keep personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, in stock along with ventilators and available beds. Henning said Baptist was benefiting from being a part of a large healthcare system and the ability to shift resources around when needed.

“As far as running out of equipment and resources, we are closely monitoring the situation; however, we don’t see any problems at this time,” Henning said. “Our system-wide infection prevention team has been planning this scenario for weeks. This team works with representatives from all of Baptist’s entities to ensure we’re prepared.”

During Wednesday’s Aldermen meeting, Waller reiterated that Lafayette County and Mississippi are still “in the upswing of this thing,” and encouraged everyone to still adhere to the guidelines put in place by local officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help combat the spread and flatten the curve as quickly as possible.

Baptist would not disclose how many patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized or asked to self-quarantine at home, citing patient privacy laws.

If there is an overload of COVID-19 patients needing to be hospitalized, Henning said the hospital is prepared. However, he said, they have not gotten close to that threshold, yet.

“We have contingency plans in place in the event we have a surge of patients,” Henning said. “With our elective medical procedures eliminated during this pandemic, we have space available that can be used for additional patients.”

To be in compliance with Governor Tate Reeves’ executive order signed on Tuesday, Baptist is not allowing visitors for adult patients without special exemptions, as stated in the hospital’s Visitors Guidelines. They continue to eliminate elective services and are screening everyone who enters the hospital, which helps reduce traffic in the building and the opportunity to spread COVID-19 to staff and patients.