CONWAY, Ark. — Hospitals across the state are bearing the brunt of the latest COVID-19 surge. With reports of ICU beds in short supply and the number of sick going up, we wanted to see it firsthand.
A few months ago, the COVID situation at Conway Regional actually got better and they were able to close one of their COVID floors. But unfortunately, that floor is open again and what was a step forward, now feels like two steps back.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, there were about 43 COVID-19 patients at the hospital.
But then things got better and one COVID floor sat empty…but that didn’t last long.
“It was like a gut punch to have to consider opening up those units,” said Matt Troup, CEO of Conway Regional.
“Census wise, we’re roughly back to where we were last year in the midst of everything,” said Hannah Ray, RN at Conway Regional.
Ray has been on the front lines since the beginning.
She said what’s different this go-around is the ages of the patients they’re treating. The average age of their current patients is younger than 60.
“That affects us mentally and emotionally a little bit different than it did last year because these patients that I’m treating now or taking care of are closer to my age,” Ray said.\
Since June 1 of this year, 88 percent of Conway Regional’s COVID patients were not vaccinated.
“While this is our calling, this is what we are made to do, it’s still a challenge and it’s still something that wears on people, particularly when you know this is preventable by getting the vaccine,” Troup said.
All COVID units are open again and the hospital has had to expand care into its rehab hospital.
“That’s probably the most gut-wrenching part of this,” Troup said. “These are all things that we could easily prevent if we, as a community, came together and did the right thing.”
Nurses like Ray are encouraging everyone to get the vaccine. Meanwhile, they’re all still willing and ready to serve.
Conway Regional says the small number of COVID patients who have been vaccinated tend to have fewer symptoms and are less ill, or critically ill, than those who are not vaccinated.