FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Northwest Arkansas hospitals continue feeling the strain of patients fighting COVID-19.
As of Friday, September 3, there are 134 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Benton and Washington Counties, and the average age is only getting younger.
Unvaccinated patients continue to fill northwest Arkansas regional hospitals with severe COVID-19 cases.
“The messaging early on was that if you’re young and you’re healthy, COVID-19 doesn’t really affect you and that might’ve been correct for most people early on,” Washington Regional Hospitalist Dr. Michael Bolding said. “Certainly with this Delta variant, that’s simply not the case.”
According to Northwest Arkansas Healthcare Providers, the youngest hospitalized COVID-19 patient is under 12 years old and the average age of hospitalized patients dropped to 43 years old.
Dr. Bolding said it is extremely hard seeing younger patients get critically ill and even dying from the virus.
“When you start seeing people with their whole lives ahead of them and I’m calling wives in their mid-20s, that really gets to you,” Dr. Bolding said.
As of Friday, 84 ventilators are in use and 126 ICU beds are filled up across northwest Arkansas hospitals, including both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
“While we have significant hospital capacity in Arkansas, our ICU bed space is very very tight,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson in this weeks press conference.
Hutchinson said the state is planning to add 64 more ICU beds across the state in September.
“But if we do have an increase, then that capacity could be filled up very soon and then, where do you go,” he asked. “That’s a fair question.”
Hutchinson said the key is more Arkansans stepping up to the plate to get vaccinated.
“We’re not from the government, we’re not telling you go do this because it’s a mandate,” Dr. Bolding said. “We’re telling you, ‘Go get vaccinated’ because we don’t want to see you in end up in our Covid units and put your family through that.”