Washington Regional Health System of Fayetteville on Wednesday afternoon implemented COVID-19 protocols in response to the recent surge of the virus’ Delta variant.
On Tuesday, Arkansas reported 1,875 new cases and more than 800 hospitalized, the highest totals for each since February.
Chief Operating Officer and Administrator Birch Wright announced the system is now in phase two of its COVID surge plan, which entails reassigning hospital and clinic employees to assist in areas of most critical need. It also moves the health system to a team-based nursing approach where primary nurses have support from secondary nurses for non-specialized tasks, he said in a statement.
“These actions will allow us to expand our capacity, making it possible for us to care for an increased number of COVID and non-COVID patients.”
Effective July 22, visiting hours will be reduced as will the number of visitors allowed in the hospital. Washington Regional’s cafeteria, coffee shop and gift shop will be closed to visitors until further notice.
Wright said region hospitals are caring for than 90 patients hospitalized due to COVID, a 48 percent increase over the last week and a 538 percent increase over the past month.
“This rate of increase is not sustainable,” he said. “Along with caring for an influx of COVID-19 patients, our hospitals are also caring for a continued increase of critical care patients. We urge community members to get vaccinated if they have not already, to encourage family members and friends to get vaccinated and to be vigilant in public.”