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Arkansas hospitals prepare to juggle COVID-19 along with wintry weather threat

The pandemic doesn't stop for icy roads, so hospitals are setting up socially-distant living quarters for staff to stay during inclement weather.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s a double whammy for hospitals statewide because they have to be ready for weather and continue their COVID-19 fight.

A team of UAMS workers set up a COVID-19-friendly living quarters on Wednesday ahead of the expected icy weather.

The hospital has 200 air mattresses and more than 75 cots on standby for staff.

Like every hospital, UAMS has an inclement weather policy and plan for staff; however, there’s even more sense of urgency for them to be at work as they say the pandemic doesn’t stop for icy roads.

“Nurses that come on shift for the evening will stay until the inclement weather is lifted,” said Chris Clark with UAMS.

“With COVID-19 being in the mix, that’s complicated things a little bit,” said Richard James, with Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton.

Saline Memorial is working around COVID-19 to keep their staff safe and available.

They’ll use vacant patient rooms until they are filled and have cots on standby.

UAMS said they are also providing a safe place for other employees, such as facilities and IT people.

“It’s so that if we have any power outages, if we have any interruption of support services, we have people on site that can help the healthcare workers continue to take care of patients,” said Clark.