Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Inside look at Searcy Unity Health COVID-19 ICU unit


SEARCY, Ark. – Hospitals across the state are finding new ways to manage the increase in patients because of COVID-19. Unity Health in Searcy, like many hospitals, has been forced to create space because of the increase in COVID cases.

Inside one of the COVID units at Unity Health, doctors and nurses get ready to check on patient after patient.

“That’s been a challenge of how do we manage patient flow and how do we get patients in and out of our ICU,” Unity Health President and CEO Steven Webb said.

Webb said their ICU is at capacity just about every day.

“We look for places we can transfer patients which has been very difficult across the state to find ICU beds,” Webb said.

If other hospitals are full, they have to find a way to still provide care.

“We hold patients in our ER and treat them as an ICU patient in our emergency department until a bed becomes available,” Webb said.

He said it’s not just about having space, but the staff. Not just any nurse can care for critical patients.

“No, nurses need to be specially trained for an ICU,” Webb said.

Hospital staff is in the process of adding nine more ICU beds and 25 more regular hospital beds to handle the increase.

“We want to get the patient to the best level of care, most appropriate level of care as quickly as we can,” Webb said.

Webb said he’s encouraged to see numbers begin to drop but urges the community to stay vigilant.

“We’re seeing numbers in this area go down, but we need to be doing everything that we can to protect ourselves because this could ramp back up,” Webb said.

The ICU and other COVID units should be open on September 20th.

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