Mountain Home, Ark. hospital reports 55 staff infected with COVID-19; ICU near capacity

Shoshana Stahl reports.
Published: Nov. 14, 2020 at 9:02 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2020 at 10:24 PM CST
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MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KY3) - Baxter Regional Medical Center has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among its staff and patients.

The hospital is reporting 55 staff members sick with the virus, including 25 who are nurses. There are currently 24 patients with COVID-19 at the hospital.

“We believe that we’ve had no one COVID patient transmit to any of our employees and we’ve had no COVID employee transmit to our patients," hospital president and CEO Ron Peterson says.

Peterson says he thinks staff members are contracting the virus on their lunch breaks or out within the community. The hospital is putting a temporary hold on non-emergency surgeries that would require an overnight stay.

Baxter Regional Medical Center is restricting visitors. We weren’t allowed inside, but we spoke to MaryJo Haworth. Her husband, Brad, is a patient at the hospital with COVID-19.

“I don’t know if you’ve had to ever drop anyone at the ER and not go in with them, but I can tell you it’s crushing and you see it on TV right now, but until you feel it, it’s just a feeling that I don’t wish on anyone," Haworth says.

Peterson says if people out in the community need emergency care to not be afraid to come to the emergency room.

“We have a safe environment here," Peterson says. "There’s no question COVID patients are here. However, we have the negative pressure rooms so that COVID is not in the air.”

Peterson says the hospital has plenty of PPE available for the staff. The hospital has reported about 30 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The intensive care unit has 17 beds total with three open beds at the moment.

Peterson says the hospital has been at capacity recently and that’s been taking a toll on the staff’s mental health.

“They are with them every day, day in and day out and you can start to see the progression of that patient as they decline and that gets really tough on nurses because you’re dealing with death and/or anticipating somebody dying and yet you’re there taking care of them," Peterson says.

Haworth says Brad started feeling sick on November 3, but since he has Crohn’s disease, he didn’t think too much of it. He checked his temperature for work and when he found out he had a fever, he got tested for COVID-19.

Haworth says her husband’s symptoms were mild at first, but progressively got worse. He went to the emergency room, got treated and then was released.

“When you’re sitting there seriously thinking about how you’re going to tell your daughter about her dad because she’s only three, that’s scary and it’s serious,” Haworth says. “The person you’re talking to without your mask on may be like my husband and it’s gonna hit him and possibly take their life.”

Haworth says her husband, Brad, started getting worse after being released from the emergency room for the second time, hitting a fever over 105.

“We are so fortunate Brad’s in the hospital now and I know that sounds strange, but it was an answer to a prayer," Haworth says. “I actually had to call an ambulance that morning because there was no way I could get my six foot husband out the door and into the car and to the hospital. At that point he was so weak.”

Haworth’s husband Brad is receiving doses of Remdesivir and plasma at the hospital but she says doctors told her that some days the hospital is completely out of plasma.

“50% of the people it helps them turn around and I know 50 doesn’t sound like a lot, but when it’s your 50, it’s the world," Haworth says.

Haworth says the outpouring of support she’s been getting has made this a little bit easier on her family.

“I can’t tell you how many friends we’ve had that have been like ‘if you need anything I’ll drive there and help you,'" Haworth says. "If you drop everything and drive somewhere three hours away for your friend, wouldn’t you put a mask on for 30 minutes in a store. Just translate that love that you have for your friends and live that way.”

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