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'It's a terrible feeling': Arkansas hospitals running out of room for patients

Arkansas hospitals are stretched thin and it's hurting patient care.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Around Arkansas, hospitals are struggling with keeping beds for patients.

"I called I think 20 hospitals one day trying to see if we could just get someone transferred out, and the answer was 'no' all around," said Dr. Brent Rosson with North Arkansas Regional Medical Center.

UAMS in Little Rock is experiencing similar circumstances. Dr. Rawle Seupaul, UAMS' Chief Medical Officer said the hospital can't give adequate care to patients as they could pre-pandemic.

"It's a terrible feeling. We're stretched pretty thin resource-wise from a personnel standpoint and from a physical space," said Dr. Seupaul.

Intensive care space is limited and wait times are longer. Plus, if patients are in an outside facility they may not be transferred to UAMS because there isn't the capacity to accept the transfers.

"There seemed to always be a little more bed capacity available, whereas now it seems we've met saturation for ICU especially," said Jeff Tabor with Arkansas Trauma Comm.

COVID Comm is the transfer system that hospitals can use to find openings for patients across the state. 

Forty-one hospitals are a part of COVID Comm, which was reinstated by the Governor less than a month ago after hospitalizations started rising.

If a patient is transferred, the ride could be up to 6 hours long to wherever an opening is found, even if it's from one side of Arkansas to the other.

"That does add a stress to the EMS resources available to the communities that they normally wouldn't have to deal with," said Tabor.

If there isn't an opening for a patient, COVID Comm will put them on a list to look for an open bed. Hospitals will look for space within Arkansas and outside the state. 

CHI St. Vincent is also operating at capacity. In a statement sent to THV11, CHI St. Vincent said in part:

"Unlike the prior surges in COVID-19 patients, patients currently requiring hospitalization at our facilities are younger with an approximate age range of 25 – 44. Of those patients admitted to our hospitals over the past month related to the Delta Variant of COVID-19, only one patient had been vaccinated. The rest have been unvaccinated."