The number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi is skyrocketing. There are 1,633 cases in hospitals across the country, with 486 in intensive care and 319 on ventilators, with all numbers rising from Thursday.
To make the situation worse, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health’s chief medical officer and local doctor Dr. Dan Edney reported a shortage of health workers to take care of the sick.
“We now have a serious shortage of staff in Mississippi with 2,000 fewer nurses compared to this time last year,” said Edney, as there were 1,444 COVID cases January at its peak.
This was not only due to retirement, Edney said, but also to medical professionals looking for opportunities outside of the state. States like Louisiana, Texas, and Florida recruit workers and can offer much higher wages and premiums than Mississippi.
This is due to Mississippi’s high non-insurance rate and the high percentage of people on Medicaid and Medicare who pay hospitals less than private insurers.
This week, 44 patients needed intensive care beds in Mississippi and hospitals were only able to open seven.
“You can’t just put a patient in an ICU bed without the staff looking after them,” Edney said.
The MSDH is working with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to bring in contract and federal assistance to open more intensive care units and medical beds.
Because of this, Field hospitals open in Mississippi and overseas staff come to help.
“Hospitals do everything they can to care for our communities,” Edney said. “At the moment we simply have no place for our regular emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes and accidents.”
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 cases are still at their peak and Edney said it may take another seven to 14 days.
“We must do everything we can to keep the hospitals in our state functioning by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, social distancing, and receiving (monoclonal antibody) therapy if you get COVID,” he said.
There has been an influx of COVID positive patients in the Merit Health River Region, according to CEO Benjamin Richaud.
“Like hospitals across the country, the Merit Health River Region is seeing an increase in the intake of COVID-positive patients and facing staffing challenges,” said Richaud. “We staff the hospital based on the number of patients and the accuracy of the patients in our treatment, which means that the size and type of staff required will change according to the needs of the patients currently in the hospital.
“We remind everyone that the Merit Health River Region remains ready to care for all patients in need of medical attention, and we encourage patients in need of a medical emergency to seek immediate help. Our top priority is the care and safety of our patients. “
About Terri Cowart Frazier
Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter for The Vicksburg Post and editor of Vicksburg Living Magazine, which was named # 1 by the Mississippi Press Association. She also won first place in the editorial department of the MPA Better Newspaper Contest for the “Best Feature Story”.
Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with a major in public relations.
Before joining The Post a little over 10 years ago, she was a freelance worker with the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time mom who stayed at home.
Terri is a member of Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and a former member of the Sampler Antique Club and the Town and Country Garden Club. She is with Dr. Walter Frazier married.
“From informing about local government affairs to hearing the stories of their people, a home newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with their and local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone my skills as I help with the Stories to share in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, I always answer “the people”.
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