SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — COVID cases are spiking and hospitals across the country are hurting, with not enough staff to carry the painful and emotional load. But in DeSoto County, help has arrived.
Mississippi has been in overdrive as the COVID variant spreads. The president of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors watched it hit his county, too.
“We have been out of ICU beds for weeks, and our emergency departments are full. We just been in an overload situation,” said Mark Gardner President of the Desoto County Board of Supervisors.
It’s why the Board First asked the State of Mississippi for a field hospital to help treat patients. But after learning there weren’t enough workers to staff a hospital, they asked for more nurses and therapists to help the staff.
“The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ask the State for help and fortunately that help has arrived,” said Gardner.
About a week ago, the cavalry of workers started descending on Baptist Desoto and Methodist Olive Branch. Baptist Desoto says they have 50 of the 75 nurses promised and they are set to get six respiratory therapists.
“It has really helped to decompress our emergency room,” said Dr. H.F. Mason, Baptist Desoto Hospital’s chief medical officer. “It’s allowed us to decompress things on the floor. It has tremendously helped the flow to the hospital.”
He says it is stipulated that the extra staff must work with COVID patients only, but that frees up regular Baptist workers to tend to other patients.
“It’s really helped and they’re doing a great job and our nurses are really proud to have them here,” Mason said.
It’s a real life line for those on the front line of a pandemic that only seems to be growing.
“We’re in the midst of our fourth surge and I believe, as of this morning we had approximately 100 COVID patients in the hospital,” Mason said. “Our max was in January when we had 115, so we are almost to that level that we were back in January. Having this extra help is just . . . it’s really helped.”
The nurses and respiratory therapists are being paid by the state, and the federal government will reimburse Mississippi. The workers will be at the hospitals for up to 12 weeks and then the need will be re-evaluated