Rural hospitals are relying on larger medical centers ICU facilities for Covid treatment


WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- As Coronavirus cases keep soaring throughout the state of Mississippi, hospitals are filling up their ICU beds to treat those infected.

When it comes to treating COVID-19 patients, having the best form of care is vital.

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That’s the route rural medical centers are taking, even if it means transferring patients to other facilities.

“I think everybody in the health care industry if you wanted to say, was on pins and needles. I think we all are because there is just such an uncertainty of the surging cases we’ve had statewide,” said Winston Medical Center CEO, Paul Black.

Winston Medical Center is one of the few hospitals without an ICU facility.

Black says to treat severely-ill COVID-19 patients, they’re relying on other medical facilities to house them.

“We go wherever from UMMC in Jackson, all the way to North Mississippi in Tupelo. We go to OCH Golden Triangle in Columbus, down to Rush-Anderson in Meridian. Whenever there is a patient that is deemed to need an ICU service, we’ll look out those particular areas and try to find a bed,” said Black.

Around 35 to 40 patients are transferred per month, most cases right from the ER.

Even though Winston Medical has the personnel for care, some patients might require special attention.

“We’ve got staff and we’ve got physicians that can handle COVID-19 patients. If you have a patient who has horrible conditions, they start to go bad, and they’ve got complications then there’s the determination that says this patient needs to be in a higher level of care,” said Black.

To lower the curve, Black is urging everyone to practice safety measures like wearing a mask and washing your hands regularly.

“It just presents an issue we’ve never had to address before. That’s a concern. That’s why we’re getting into an emergency situation with ICU beds. You’ve got normal stuff going on, then you got COVID-19 taking place. When another normal comes along like flu, it creates a problem,” said Black.

He’s monitoring daily updates from state medical officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. Black says the hospital will continue to use this practice until further notice.