Inside Look: UMMC caring for COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Behind the number of cases and hospitalizations are fellow Mississippians fighting for their lives. And a team of medical heroes by their side. For the first time, we are getting an inside look at what the COVID-19 spike is doing to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Those we spoke to described it as a never-ending battle. The effects of this virus are something that none of them have seen in their entire careers. They told me it’s only going to get worse unless the public follows the health guidelines. 

“We’re tired, I’m not going to lie we’re all tired,” one doctor told us.

With 855 COVID-19 hospitalizations right now across the state, UMMC physicians have firsthand experience of feeling the burden. 

“For adult patients, we have 80 regular ICU beds, we have created extra space and they’ve all been full,” Assistant Vice Chancellor in Clinical Affairs Dr. Alan Jones said.  

“We have patients in the emergency department who need ICU beds,” Dr. Risa Moriarity in Emergency Medicine added. “They’re on ventilators. Some of them have been down in our emergency department for close to 24 hours.”

With all these patients comes the issue of staffing enough people and it’s a struggle to keep up with capacity. 

“Resources are sometimes strapped, nurse to patient ratio is not what we would like it to be,” Dr. Moriarity continued. “Those situations create a lot of extra stress, and so we’re really at a point where people can’t have a break.”

“Spoke with one of the nurses and she had walked between 7-8 miles that day and it was only 2:00 p.m.,” Dr. Andy Wilhelm in the Medical Intensive Care Unit said. “These patients require a lot of care, so by the time you work so hard on people and they continue to die it’s emotionally exhausting.”

All doctors we spoke to agreed some of the stress on the hospital system could be lifted if the public would listen to health experts and accept that the coronavirus is a serious threat. 

“This is not a hoax,” Dr. Jones explained. “You know I’ve never in my 20+ years of medical practice seen hospital wards full of medical patients with a particular infectious disease.”

“This coronavirus is not the flu, I have never seen our emergency department like this,” Dr. Moriarity stated. “We have never had to have an area of the emergency department dedicated to flu patients. I think the flu is much more predictable whereas coronavirus seems to be affecting people who are otherwise healthy and middle age having devastating effects.”

As we reported earlier UMMC and other hospitals have already been forced to turn patients away sending them out of state due to a lack of space. Adding an extra wait for treatment by 4-5 hours. To watch the full press conference on Facebook click here.

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