Medical experts concerned with rise in COVID hospitalizations


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A recent spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations is causing some concern among the medical community. Doctors are warning the public that medical centers may soon reach their tipping point if the upward trend doesn’t end soon. The rise in hospitalizations is proportionate to the rise in COVID-19 cases Arkansas has been seeing, but hospitals are now beginning to feel the strain of an increase in patients, and are worried that ERs and ICUs will soon be swamped.

The latest data from the Arkansas Department of Health paints a grim picture for the fight against COVID-19, with more than a thousand new cases each day, and a steady climb in the death toll. But what’s truly concerning to doctors is the rise in hospitalizations; Arkansas saw 37 new hospital patients overnight, with 9 more needing ventilators.

“There’s a tipping point where people are doing fine and then suddenly, they have to be in the hospital.” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the ADH says even healthy people can have a severe case of COVID, one that could lead to life-threatening conditions such as sepsis or stroke. But the rise in cases is stretching hospitals thin, and the number of available beds isn’t necessarily the issue. “The key is having the staff to take care of the patients,” Dr. Dillaha said. Governor Hutchinson addressed this concern this past week by fast-tracking upcoming nursing graduates to help COVID units in need.

The other concern is that COVID patients needing urgent care are taking beds away from those suffering other critical conditions that have nothing to do with the pandemic, including heart attacks, broken bones, and other chronic illnesses such as cancer. “There are other reasons why people need hospitalizations and if the beds are full, that makes it very difficult.”

Dr. Dillaha stresses that it’s up to Arkansans to get those numbers down by wearing a mask, social distancing, and keeping holiday gatherings to a maximum of 10. “It’s really important for people to do whatever they can on their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” She also wants to remind residents that it’s important to stay safe against the other disease filling up hospitals: the flu. “Everyone that can should get a flu vaccine.”

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