TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – North Mississippi Medical Center held a tour for media and local elected officials Tuesday to show how medical workers are taking care of COVID-19 patients.
“This is a world class facility,” says Mississippi State Senator Chad McMahan. “We’re lucky to have a facility like this in northeast Mississippi.”
NMMC is part of the largest rural hospital center in the United States. North Mississippi Health Services is there to aid 24 counties in north Mississippi and northwest Alabama.
The 44 beds at the facility designated for COVID-19 patients stay full nearly every day.
“As you know, our hospital systems across Mississippi, it’s my understanding they’re at full capacity so this hospital has tremendous flexibility,” says Senator McMahan. “They can add capacity if needed.”
The hospital has received $76 million in federal funding and about $6 million from the state of Mississippi through the CARES Act to respond to the pandemic.
“We’re looking for every clinical resource we can find to help support our healthcare team and the capacity needs we have within our healthcare system,” says NMMC CEO Shane Spees.
Some of the money bought equipment such as ventilators and negative pressure rooms. Spees says their greatest concern is financial support for staff as the whole country deals with a shortage of healthcare workers.
“We may have 250-260 staff members out any given day during COVID because of infection rate or exposure,” Spees says.
He says close to $5 million have gone towards offsetting staffing expenses. Another way the hospital is addressing the staffing concern is by focusing on reducing exposure to the virus. Nearly $6 million have been used to install patient monitors outside every room in the COVID unit.
“We can monitor vitals outside the room, we can monitor equipment outside the room, we can monitor the patient from outside the room,” Spees says.
However, Spees wants to remind Mississippians that financial resources can only get them so far.
“The wearing of the mask, the social distancing, the frequent washing of hands, that’s the most effective way we have today to fight this pandemic,” he says.
NMMC currently has 41 coronavirus patients, including 9 in ICU. So far, hospital officials say none of their staff have contracted the virus from working in their COVID-19 ward.