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Arkansas health officials concerned as hospitals at capacity with COVID patients

Over the weekend, the Chancellor of UAMS Cam Patterson tweeted that the state’s largest hospital is at capacity with COVID patients.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The state’s largest hospital is at capacity with COVID-19 patients.

Now, the fear is nearby hospitals are also quickly filling up.

Doctors are making another urgent call to the public to get vaccinated.

According to UAMS officials, 56 patients are in the hospital fighting the virus.

Twenty-five of those patients are in the Intensive Care Unit and 14 are on ventilators.

Health officials warn that could happen at more hospitals in the state if the trend continues.

“It's real and it's dangerous and if you're going to take something seriously, this is the time to, maybe, be a little bit more open minded about it,” said Dr. Benjamin Davis, director of surgical and critical care. 

“It feels like we're already to the level of how we were during the surge last year."

The battle against COVID-19 is far from over and doctors are UAMS said the hospital is at capacity.

“The hospital beds are full and so it's hard to move patients out of the ICU, even if they are ready to go,” said Dr. Davis.

According to Dr. Davis, normally, patients in the hospital can be admitted and recover quickly.

But, the delta variant is proven to be aggressive against those who are not vaccinated and that is causing the hospital to fill up.

“If your average patient is suddenly taking a week in the hospital because they have COVID or something like that, and there's suddenly a larger number of them, then the system can get overwhelmed,” Dr. Davis said.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said a similar situation could happen at more healthcare facilities in Arkansas as hospitalizations continue to rise.

“It is a sign of what could be in the future for most hospitals in Arkansas,” said Dr. Dillaha.

The threat now is that more of these facilities are beginning to fill up again and that is concerning because the focus could be turned away from other patients who also need medical attention.

“People who may have an injury, or a heart attack, or a stroke, or some other illness, may not be able to get the timely care that they need,” Dr. Dillaha said.

Dr. Davis just wants those who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine to trust the medical professionals.

“If you trust your doctors and you trust your healthcare systems at all, the best thing you can do is get this shot and take the other simple safety steps,” Dr. Davis said.

In central Arkansas, other hospitals are beginning to fill up.

Officials with Baptist Health said 93% of their COVID-19 patients have not been vaccinated.

98% of those patients are under 50 and have not been vaccinated.

CHI St. Vincent said they are very busy but not at capacity.