JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the hospital’s response to the virus.
They announced a 50-bed field hospital hospital will open in a parking garage at UMMC. The temporary facility could be open by Friday, August 13.
Leaders said the federal government will send medical professionals to help treat patients as COVID-19 cases continue surging in Mississippi, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S. Many Mississippi hospitals face a crunch for space and staffing.
“The big solution is, let’s get this surge under control, and let’s get the spread of this virus under control,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, the head of UMMC. “And the way that we do that is by getting people vaccinated.”
Woodward also shared some of the biggest pain points are the low nursing staff availability and lack of ICU beds for patients. To help support an increasing number of patients, federal assistance will be sending medical professionals to UMMC.
“What we plan to do is to deploy the field hospital into the basement of Garage B and then to utilize these different personnel in that facility,” said Dr. Woodward.
Earlier on Wednesday, UMMC reported a third day of record-breaking numbers for COVID-19 patients. As of August 11, there are a total of 101 adults and 26 children with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases at the hospital. The unvaccinated count for patients is 85.7 percent, while 14.3 percent are fully vaccinated.
“We have exceeded where we were at any point during this pandemic, but compared to last August as well. So when you look at the number of COVID patients that we have and the proportion that is pediatrics, we personally here at (UMMC) hospital, we are at a higher peak than we were,” said Woodward.
Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and COVID-19 clinical response leader, said some of the new staffers being deployed will assist with young adults. He also shared that medical professionals are seeing more healthy children getting hospitalized by coronavirus than ever before.
UMMC officials said 30-35 staffers will consist of physicians, nurses, pharmacist, paramedics, and paramedics. They are hoping to be able to use the facility starting Friday, August 13.
Watch the full news conference below: