Hospital association director says some Arkansas hospitals ‘stretched thin,’ warns of healthcare worker shortage

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,366 views 

The continued rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has some hospitals “stretched thin,” with a shortage of healthcare workers more of a concern than hospital bed availability, according to Bo Ryall, president and CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association.

Ryall, speaking Tuesday (Nov. 3) during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly COVID briefing, said hospital systems in northeast and central Arkansas are especially “tight.” He said the latest statewide numbers show that 10% of all occupied beds in Arkansas hospitals have COVID patients, 26% of intensive care beds have COVID patients, and 31% of ventilators in use are with COVID patients. Ryall said those percentages are some of the “highest numbers” in the key metrics.

But the biggest concern is having staff to meet the added numbers caused by the pandemic, Ryall said.

“What we are seeing is a shortage of healthcare workers. That is caused by fatigue, competition from other states, increasing costs and community exposure. Reports from every region of the state indicate fatigue from healthcare workers in treating COVID patients. As we begin to think about our own fatigue, let’s consider the effort going on by health care workers across our state and their fatigue,” Ryall said.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported Tuesday 878 confirmed and probable COVID cases, up 878. The number of confirmed and probable COVID deaths was up 18 to 2,003.

Gov. Hutchinson also outlined his “winter strategy” in addressing the pandemic, noting that the “layered approach … takes all of us working together to be successful.” The strategy is a continued focus on more testing, contact tracing and quarantining, compliance checks, marketing campaign, and prep for vaccine distribution. He said Arkansans must assume “individual responsibility” with social distancing, avoiding large crowds, and wearing masks. He also encouraged everyone to get a flu shot.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero again urged Arkansans to be careful with family gatherings during the holidays, and suggested limiting family gatherings to 10 or less. He said a lot of transmission is happening “within families and in small-group settings.”

“We need think seriously this year whether it is advisable to bring 20, 30 members into a home, especially if you’re traveling from regions outside of Arkansas into an environment where there can be increased transmission of the virus during those events,” Romero advised.

New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• 105,223 known cumulative PCR cases, with 515 new community cases and 5 cases in correctional facilities
• 9,296 “probable” cases, up from 8,938 on Monday
• There are 7,814 active cases, down from 8,209 on Monday
• There were 5,131 test results provided in the previous 24 hours.
• There were 1,279 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours with 224 positives.

• 1,833, up 16
• 170 “probable” COVID-related deaths, up 2

667, down 21

121, up 2

Recovered cases

The top five counties with new known cases reported Tuesday were: Benton (96), Washington (77), Pulaski (66), Craighead (38), and Sebastian (37). The counties accounted for 61% of the 515 new community cases.

As of Tuesday at 1 p.m., there were 9,323,852 U.S. cases and 231,968 deaths. Globally, there were 47,423,447 cases and 1,209,927 deaths.