BATESVILLE, Ark. – The number of hospitalized with covid in Arkansas has risen dramatically in recent weeks. 

“It’s almost easier to say who isn’t impacted right now that it is who is because it’s just it’s very, very prevalent,” President and CEO of White River Medical System Gary Paxson said.

The number of covid patients at WRMC has more than doubled within a week.  On Friday, they had 23 patients and on Tuesday evening they reported 47.

Paxson believes this is not the worst of it yet.

“We are now at the peak of where we were in the last wave and we don’t think the peak has yet hit,” Paxson said.

Paxson said they’ve had to dust off contingency plans the state-requested hospitals come up with.  He said they configured their plans to be able to be adjusted easily depending on the situation.

“We had to come up with a plan, pick a letter because now we’re trying to figure out where else can we put patients,” Paxson explained.

WRMC has reinstated some of its protocols when the Delta wave was at its peak. 

“Wash, rinse, repeat from the last two years. It’s all things you talked about, it’s wear the mask, wash your hands, encouraging vaccines encouraging boosters,” Paxson said.

WRMC also prepped for this moment because the numbers were trending upward.  They hired extra travel nurse staff to allow their own staff to rest some during the holidays. 

Just like any other hospital, they have had challenges with keeping staff healthy and out of protocols.

“I believe everyone in our state of struggling with the volume and staffing issues,” Paxson explained.

Paxson is hopeful the Omicron wave will disappear just as quickly as it came on in Arkansas.  He said some of the models have this wave of covid dissipating in the middle of February, which is later than most other predictions, which has the beginning of the decline around the end of January.

“We’re hopeful, two things: a, that it comes down fast and two, this finally gets us to herd immunity,” Paxson said.