January 23, 2021

Mississippi’s largest hospital system braced for ‘tough months’ ahead; critical care standards next

Leaders of Mississippi’s biggest hospital said Wednesday they believe they will soon be operating on crisis care standards, something limited for critical periods of health care resource shortages due to high numbers of COVID-19 coronavirus patients.

The state reported nearly 1,400 confirmed COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, a record high.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center Vice Chancellor Dr. LouAnn Woodward said the hospital system is stretched thin currently and they fear the worse is to come.

“There is a limit to the resources that we have available and based on what we’re seeing right now, we will get to a point where that limit is hit,” Woodward said.

The biggest problem may not be space, which is in short supply, but in staffing as demand for staffing has become critical around the country.

“From a health systems standpoint, we are braced for a couple of tough months but I don’t think we can take a whole tough year,” Woodward said. “I just don’t think we can continue to manage things.”

The American Medical Association guidance on crisis standards of care includes guiding hospitals to prepare to triage patients much more critically, looking, for example, at the likelihood that life-sustaining treatments are working or not. Further, it points out that under critical care standards, physicians may, for exmaple, not start CPR for patients if the care is unlikely to ultimately benefit the patient.