Mercy echoes and supports the statement from Washington Regional Medical Center that we are in the midst of a COVID-19 surge in Northwest Arkansas. The threat to each person’s health and to our community is real. We respectfully ask that everyone continue to show support to our health care workers on the front lines by social distancing, washing your hands, wearing masks and staying home if you’re sick. We have appreciated incredible support from the community since the beginning of the pandemic, and we want to assure everyone that we are handling the surge of cases and will be here for them whether they need care for COVID-19 or other health issues.
Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March, Mercy was working in concert with our regional health care group and within our larger Mercy organization to prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases. Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas made painstaking preparations in terms of staffing, negative pressure rooms, intensive care beds, securing of PPE and ventilators. Although an increase in cases took longer to happen than we had anticipated, Mercy is well prepared and currently keeping up with the surge.
We have designated units for separation of COVID-19 patients and designated staff who work exclusively with COVID-19 patients. These steps are important to ensure we protect our physicians, nurses and other health care workers, thereby protecting our community.
As of Thursday, Mercy had 34 patients in our combined COVID-19 units. About half of those patients were requiring mechanical ventilation.
Mercy has a total of 60 beds in separate, designated units to care for COVID-19 patients. Mercy also can expand capacity by converting space on unfinished floors at Mercy Hospital.
Area health care organizations are working together very closely to share resources. There have been a few times over the past few weeks that Mercy has looked to other Northwest Arkansas hospitals to assist in caring for patients during the surge. We stay in close communication daily to ensure no organization is overly stressed.
One important consideration we aren’t often asked about are the specialized skills necessary to care for COVID-19 patients, who tend to be among the most critically ill patients in the hospital. With the recent surge in cases, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas was able to ask for help from Mercy Hospitals in St. Louis and Joplin, which sent a group of nurses specializing in intensive care to help. We are thankful for the support and will respond in kind should other Mercy hospitals need our assistance.
Mercy is deeply grateful to all health care workers and proud of how our physicians, nurses and others have come together in response to this health care crisis. Whether they are working with COVID-19 patients or helping to re-start services in primary and specialty care, they make sacrifices and take risks every day to serve the health care needs of our community.