LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Just hours after Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced there were no ICU beds left in Arkansas for COVID-19 patients, Baptist Health announced it is opening more beds at two hospitals to try to relieve some of the pressure from the surge.
Hospital officials said Tuesday afternoon that they would be adding 18 ICU beds at their facilities in Fort Smith and North Little Rock, with 15 beds specifically to handle COVID-19 patients.
The new facilities will be ready for patients with the next two weeks.
In addition to the COVID-19 ICU beds, Baptist Health officials said they expected to have another 157 beds for non-ICU COVID-19 patients ready as soon as Wednesday at the Van Buren location.
Hospital officials noted that while having the bed space is crucial, they are also working to secure the staffing needed to provide care for patients in those beds, noting that the timing on opening the new spots in Fort Smith and North Little Rock were dependent on getting health care workers hired.
During his news conference earlier in the day, Hutchinson noted the state had already been working on increasing the number of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, which need to be pressurized and have other specialized arrangements.
Information from the Arkansas Department of Health showed that as of Tuesday afternoon, there were currently 1,367 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the state, with 550 of those patients in ICU care. There were 343 patients requiring ventilators.
The ADH noted that between COVID-19 patients and other patients requiring ICU treatment, Arkansas only had 18 total ICU beds available in the state. There are 1,670 hospital beds open of the 8,732 located in the state.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.