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Arkansas trauma communication center seeing record-high in patients

Over the past 18-months, Arkansas' trauma communication center saw record-high transfer numbers as dispatchers focused on transferring COVID-19 patients.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Before omicron hit Arkansas, there were some government agencies that started to return to normal.

Arkansas' trauma communications center was briefly turned into the COVID communications center that was used to help navigate patient capacity and transfer among hospitals.

Even though the department has returned to normal operation, there's anything but relief.

"It's still just crazy out there," said Jeff Tabor with the Trauma Communications Center.

For the past 18 months, trauma communication dispatchers focused on helping COVID-19 patients get to hospitals with open beds as the center saw record-high transfer numbers.

Tabor said even though those numbers have stopped rising through recent months, they are still at record levels.

"Still when the volume is that high, hospitalizations in general are up. It does cause difficulty," said Tabor.

The trauma communication dispatchers are back to normal operations, finding hospital availability for patients. 

But, even after removing COVID patients from their rotation, their workload has not changed.

"We are seeing increased transfers because of limited bed capacity," said Tabor.

With hospitals struggling to find enough capacity for patients combined with worker shortages, it may be harder to transfer patients efficiently.

"At times they may have to wait in their ambulance in the hospital parking lot," said Tabor.

In partnership with the Arkansas Department of Health and state hospitals, health officials have a new digital system to transfer COVID patients within the state. 

The new system is expected to relieve the Trauma Communications Center from transferring COVID patients.