UAMS concerned staffing will become issue from continued surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark – COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending upward creating concern for staffing in area hospitals. 

On Wednesday, Arkansas reported 819 hospitalizations. The state’s peak in hospitalizations was just over 1400. 

UAMS says the concern now is having the staff care for patients. 

UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said Wednesday just over 500 staff members were out due to a COVID-19 sickness or exposure. 

“It’s quite possible that we could end up with 10 to 20 percent of our workforce on quarantine,” Dr. Patterson said.

Dr. Patterson says some staff has already had to take on extra patients and it’s worried hospitalizations will cause added stress to those already working overtime. 

“I’m very concerned about the resiliency of our care providers at this point,” Dr. Patterson said. 

This week, UAMS reported 49 COVID-19 hospitalizations, up from 28 last week. 

Baptist health says they have just over 150 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. 

“Even if it’s only half as many patients being hospitalized for omicron compared to delta, if the total number of positive cases ends up being four or fivefold higher, we’re still going to have more patients we’re going to have to care for in the hospital,” Patterson said. 

Arkansas Children’s Hospital currently has 13 kids hospitalized with the virus, stressing the importance of keeping staff healthy. 

“We’re the only children’s hospital in the state so we have to be able to take care of kids,” said Dr. Rick Barr, the hospital’s Executive Vice President. 

Hospitals say it’s important to get ahead of the surge now before the system becomes overwhelmed. 

“Omicron causes less severe disease but that doesn’t mean that the consequences of the omicron are necessarily less severe,” Patterson said. 

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