Fayetteville-based healthcare organization Washington Regional Medical System is adjusting its hospital and clinic operations and visitor hours amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospital patients.
On Wednesday (July 21), Birch Wright, chief operating officer and administrator for Washington Regional, highlighted the changes as the organization implemented Phase 2 of its COVID-19 Surge Plan.
This phase allows the organization to reassign some of its hospital and clinic staff to assist in areas of most critical need in the hospital. It also enables the organization to move to a team-based nursing approach where secondary nurses support primary nurses for non-specialized tasks. The actions will allow the hospital to expand capacity, making it possible to care for an increased number of COVID and non-COVID patients.
Also, the hospital will reduce visitor hours, limit the number of visitors in the hospital and close the cafeteria, coffee shop and gift shop to visitors. Link here for the updated visitor policy.
“It’s important for the community to know this is a serious situation,” Wright said. “NWA hospitals have seen a significant increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients over the last 30 days with an exponential increase over the last week. Currently, hospitals in the region are caring for over 90 hospitalized patients, a 48% increase in the last week and a 538% increase in the last month. This rate of increase is not sustainable.”
This rise in COVID patients is in addition to the continued increase of critical care patients, Wright noted.
“We urge community members to get vaccinated if they have not already, to encourage family members and friends to get vaccinated and to be vigilant in public,” Wright added.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 1.03 million Arkansans, or 40.3% of the population at least 12 years old, are fully vaccinated. Over the past two weeks, total cumulative COVID cases in Arkansas have risen by 6.8% to 367,007, from 343,707.