UAMS chancellor: COVID-19 numbers putting pressure on hospital staff, space

Good Day

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The head of one the largest hospitals in central Arkansas said the flow of patients suffering from COVID-19 complications into continues to put pressure on facilities’ staff and space.

During an interview on FOX 16 Good Day Arkansas Tuesday, Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said it is a “tough situation” caring for the growing number of COVID-19 patients, many of whom need a high level of care.

“This morning (Aug. 3) we have more than 70 COVID-19 patients that are in the hospital because of complications,” he said. “Almost half of those are in the intensive care unit. We have five patients today who are on heart/lung bypass to keep them alive. It’s a tough situation.”

Patterson noted that the hospital is still able to find space for COVID-19 patients, saying that a third COVID-19 unit has been opened.

Right now, he explained, staffing is the tough part.

“Our staff are hurting,” Patterson said. “We got an A-level team. When this started a year ago, it was the first quarter, and they were ready to go. Three weeks ago, was the fourth quarter and now it’s double overtime.”

The UAMS chancellor said that he doesn’t know when the current surge of the virus will end. He said that predicting its end is complicated by the start of school this month and the Labor Day holiday next month.

Patterson believes that taking steps such as masking and social distancing as well as vaccination were all important in curtailing the virus’s spread.

“We’ve got 71 people in the hospital because of complications from COVID-19,” he said. “We’ve never had one patient in the hospital due to complications with the vaccine.”

He added that many of the people he has seen who have caught COVID-19 after the vaccination are those who are immunocompromised, have organ transplants, diabetes or renal failure.

“For the most part, your vaccine is your ticket to safety,” Patterson said. “We’ve never had a death [at UAMS] from someone that’s been vaccinated.”

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