Forrest General sees rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Forrest General sees rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hospitals are feeling the stress of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations, and that includes here in the Pine Belt.

“We have more COVID patients now than in March and April, and we were pretty full then,” said Dr. Steven Farrell of Forrest General Hospital.

Forrest General Hospital has about 40 to 50 people a day in the hospital with the coronavirus, according to Farrell. About half of those are in intensive care.

“Now what’s happened is people have decided it’s best to go to the hospital, as I agree, if you’re ill and suffering from something other than COVID, so now we’re filled back up with non-COVID as well as COVID,” Farrell said.

Farrell says more traditional patients are back in the hospital filling beds and rooms.

“The surge in COVID cases hasn’t hurt us as much as just the overall driving need for healthcare in our area,” Farrell said.

Rumors have circulated that the hospital is turning people away, which Farrell says is not true.

“If you come into the emergency department for care, you’ll get care, people aren’t turned away,” Farrell said.

Farrell did say the hospital may turn down transfers from other facilities and does prioritize patients based on life-threatening illnesses or injuries, which is typical procedure.

“It might take a while to get to a bed, but you’ll get the care that you need in the ER while you’re waiting to get to a bet. And then once you finally get to a bed, you will get that there,” Farrell said.

Farrell is concerned about having enough nurses and doctors during the remainder of the pandemic.

“Our staff is pushed to its maximum limit in terms of how much we can ask them to do,” Farrell said. “We have nurses that are working overtime, working double time. They’re getting paid a little extra, but that’s just exhausting.”

There are ways you can help these doctors, nurses and all medical professionals.

“The most important thing the public can do is to heed the call to wear a mask when out in public and to stay out of public gathering places,” Farrell said.

Farrell added most of the cases of COVID-19 are from community spread, so the best way to stop it will be through wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing.

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