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Mid-South hospitals working to stay afloat as omicron cases surge

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:53 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:47 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - About 25% of hospitals in Tennessee are facing critical staffing shortages, according to the latest federal health care data.

Mid-South hospital systems are working under pressure to deliver care as the surge of omicron cases continues.

Baptist Memorial Health Care says more than 650 of its workers in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas are out right now because of COVID-19.

Health care systems across the Mid-South, including Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and Regional One, say they’re also experiencing the strain of increased patient volumes and staffing due to COVID-19.

Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tracks hospital staffing levels across the country every day.

That data showed a quarter (25%) of Tennessee hospitals reported a critical staffing shortage of as Tueday, 14% of hospitals in Arkansas and 6% of hospitals in Mississippi.

These shortages could have a ripple effect according to Dr. Stephen Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Hospital.

“When people aren’t available to take care of folks, there are other problems that could creep in that are independent of COVID-19. Other illnesses become more severe,” said Baptist Memorial Hospital Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Stephen Threlkeld. “Things that could have been taken care of on an elective basis get canceled because offices are closed and maybe surgeries are canceled.”

States like Arkansas announced Tuesday that $50 million in American Rescue Plan funding will go towards hospitals to prepare for a surge in hospitalizations expected in the next couple of weeks.

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