LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson reactivated the COVID Comm system that was created last winter it was used as part of the trauma system to place patients in the hospitals they need.
Program Manager Jeff Tabor said the dispatchers for the COVID Comm are similar to air traffic controllers.
“We’re coordinating destination for nearly 800 ground and air ambulances for trauma, 90 hospitals for trauma and now every hospital in the state for COVID,” Tabor said.
The goal is to get the right patient to the right hospital as close as possible.
Covid Comm has 43 hospitals in their system capable of treating COVID-19 patients.
The patients are assessed based on their symptoms and medical history then assigned a score.
They then transport those patients to a hospital to fit their level of need. Hospitals are assigned levels 1-3. Level 1 hospitals are bigger and usually have a lot more services to treat specific needs.
“The last week has been more difficult. It started slow, started with some wiggle room in there and some of those things but the last week, the last few days has definitely been more difficult,” Tabor said.
Tabor said part of the issue people are sicker from other health issues and need more intense care.
“People are sicker from the last 18 months or however long we’ve been in this pandemic. So people didn’t seek healthcare who had chronic issues, which compounded their already chronic medical conditions,” Tabor explained.
Tabor said they have transported patients from one corner of the state to the other to get patients to the right level. But if those levels aren’t available then they have to wait in line, one that’s getting longer each day.
“It ebbs and flows, that is a limiting factor. We put those in a holding pattern and continuously monitor the dashboard, which the hospitals keep up live as live can be,” Tabor said.
Tabor wants the general public to take on more responsibility to assist with the current healthcare crisis in Arkansas.
“The public assistance is so much more needed now. I.E. vaccinations, mask-wearing, we’re back to having social distance. So if the public would just be a little more involved in the healthcare system that we have now it would help tremendously,” Tabor said.
According to Tabor, some patients who have called will actually wait for a hospital room to open up closer to their home.
Covid Comm does not work with any hospital outside of the state’s borders, but hospitals will work with other states themselves if there is a need and availability.