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Only 25 ICU beds available in Arkansas as COVID cases surge

According to Arkansas Department of Health data reported on Wednesday, there are only 25 ICU beds open in the state.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said there is no space in any state hospitals for inpatient care (ICU beds.) 

In a meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 4, Dr. Romero asked the steering committee to direct money from the American Rescue Plan to get more hospital staff and beds for COVID-19 patients.

A hospital bed would cost $4,000 each.

Dr. Rawle Seupaul, the UAMS Chief Medical Officer said the hospital can't give adequate care to patients as the delta variant is causing mostly unvaccinated Arkansans to receive inpatient care.

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

According to Arkansas Department of Health data reported on Wednesday, there are 25 ICU hospital beds open in the state. This is the lowest the state has seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

COVID Comm, a transfer system that hospitals can use to find openings for patients across the state, has 41 hospitals in its network after being reinstated by Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month when hospitalizations started to rise.

Credit: KTHV

When 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.

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.

Dr. Romero also plans on using multiple hiring agencies to staff more nurses that would make $250 an hour.

In total, ADH is asking for $37,680,000 to aid with the COVID-19 crisis in Arkansas.

The ADH will be partnering with Baptist health to increase hospital capacity for virus patients by creating three alternative care facilities in Little Rock, Van Buren, and Fort Smith.

These care facilities would add 157 hospital beds (124 would be COVID-19 beds and 33 would be intensive care beds for virus patients.)

Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said the committee will meet again tomorrow to consider more proposals. "The committee will make recommendations on more than $1.57 billion in funding received through the American Rescue Plan," Hardin said Wednesday.


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