“At a breaking point”: UMMC leaders concerned about increase in COVID cases


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) leaders said they are concerned about the high number of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Mississippi because the medical center is over capacity.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC COVID-19 incident commander, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said the hospital is seeing more pediatric patients and younger adults who have contracted the Delta variant.

“It is almost impossible to put into words the level of frustration that they feel, that we all feel. The disappointment that here we are again the disappointment and honestly some low level of anger,” said Woodard.

As of August 4, UMMC had 94 COVID-19 patients, and 12 to 13 of those patients are pediatric patients. Leaders also said there’s only six ICU beds available throughout the state.

The hospital is also short-staffed at this time. Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and COVID-19 clinical response leader, said units at the hospital are empty because the hospital cannot staff them.

“In all of our healthcare industry RNs, LPN, and the ancillary nursing staff there are several hundred that we have open,” said Dr. Jones.

He said UMMC and other hospital systems in the state are “at a breaking point.”

“We are not finite resources. We can break. We can have to close,” he said. “I think we’re rapidly heading to that direction.” Jones also encouraged people to get the vaccine and wear face masks.

In July 2021, UMMC leaders announced a new policy in July that requires anyone who works or learns in a UMMC-controlled space to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions, or wear an N95 masks. The policy went into effect on July 26, 2021. Woodward said she hoped to see more health systems put a similar policy in place.

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