Mid-South hospitals faced with limited capacity as pandemic rages during traditionally busy time of year

Record COVID-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The state of Mississippi reporting a record-breaking number of hospitalizations. Sunday marked the first time the state surpassed 1,000 hospitalizations.

And the effects are definitely being felt in North Mississippi hospitals.

Large healthcare systems like Le Bonheur Methodist often depend on each other when resources start running low.

Methodist Olive Branch is on the brink of needing to send patients to Memphis for care but even here, Intensive Care beds are scarce.

“It has us concerned. It has us very concerned,” said Methodist Olive Branch’s Chief Medical officer Shailesh Patel.

Patel says he had exactly one ICU bed available by late afternoon Monday and he doesn’t have a lot of options.

Methodist suspends elective procedures

Throughout the entire Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare system, only six ICU beds remain. The 219 COVID-positive patients at Methodists’ six hospitals is a new all-time high.

“The wintertime is always traditionally busier, now you throw in COVID in the mix, we’re not going to have room to take care of patients who need help if people don’t start abiding by the guidelines,” said Patel.

He says he’s seeing an uptick in heart attacks, Pneumonia, COPD, flu and other respiratory cases -- that’s typical, but the COVID-19 pandemic is putting additional stress on hospitals.

Monday Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford had only one of their 16 Intensive Care beds available.

Baptist Desoto in Southaven had 12 of their 36 ICU beds available. Sunday the hospital only had two beds available.

Within the entire state of Mississippi, only 149 ICU beds are unoccupied, some hospitals in cities like Jackson reporting zero intensive care beds available and that’s before the anticipated boost in cases due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

State health officer Thomas Dobbs tweeted Monday: “This is truly serious. Protect yourselves and your family now.”

All elective procedures were pulled Monday and Tuesday at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis.

Hospital leaders say they made the move due to rising COVID-19 cases and wanting to free up staff.

Baptist Memphis is also limiting elective procedures.

Officials at St. Francis Hospital said they are still doing elective procedures at this time.

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