Local hospitals prep for another COVID-19 surge


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas is experiencing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitals are preparing to make sure they can take care of all their patients.

Dr. David Ratcliff, chief medical officer at Washington Regional, said the hospital is seeing in increase in patients needing COVID-19 testing and outpatient services.

“The big surge right now is in the outpatient sector with regards to testing and urgent care and clinics we are seeing a large number of folks who have acute respiratory illness,” Ratcliff said.

Dr. Ratcliff said the Washington Regional has moved some of its staff to its testing site to meet the increased demand. He said the hospital does have adequate staff now to take care of everyone.

“We have to switch our staff as well, to meet the need where the surge is at that particular point, so the staff have come over to our testing center,” Ratcliff said.

Baptist Health Fort Smith is also seeing a similar situation with patient needs. Dr. Raed Khairy said the hospital is seeing more patients with less severe illness right now.

“I think we’re seeing more patients on the regular medical floor, so patients who are mild to moderate and moderate infection,” Khairy said.

However, Dr. Khairy said its still to soon to tell if more severe hospitalizations will come from this fourth COVID-19 surge.

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