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These are featured stories of how the Upper Delta and Mid-South is combating the Coronavirus as well as resources to help those impacted by the pandemic.

NEA Baptist Preparing for Increased COVID-19 Cases

Arkansas Department of Health

For KASU News, I’m Johnathan Reaves.  Area hospitals are bracing for the unknown as COVID-19 cases climb statewide.  With the fall approaching, there is a concern about COVID-19 cases and a bad flu outbreak, which could put a strain on healthcare facilities.  How are preparations being made?  Today, I talk Sam Lynd.  Lynd is CEO of NEA Baptist.  Lynd gives an update on how things are right now.

“Things are busy,” says Lynd.  “We are seeing a lot of patients in house and also through our clinics. We certainly are seeing an increase in COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations.  We are doing well with staffing and supplies right now.  We fell like right now we have what we need to take care of folks in northeast Arkansas.”

Lynd tells how NEA Baptist has had to refocus the way it operates because of COVID-19.

“It shifted our focus in terms of what our daily cadence is,” says Smith.  “As you can imagine, a large amount of our conversation has been on COVID-19 and getting the latest recommendations and information from the Arkansas Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and other officials.  We are trying to make sure we can deliver care.  The biggest challenge has been keeping people diligent on the latest information on how to keep our people and our patients safe, because information changes on a daily (and sometimes an hourly) basis.”

The current situation at NEA Baptist allows for use of 228 beds at the hospital as part of the surge plan.  Lynd says NEA Baptist is currently at 70% capacity.  He tells about the other factors that are considered as they move forward.

“That is dependent on a number of things; such as, how much supplies and PPE do we need to support our staff and our patients as the numbers increase, as well as how severe the sickness of the patients are.  We think we can double our ICU capacity.  We are training and modeling in our preparation to make sure that we can take in the numbers of sick patients and treat them.”

Lynd tells what would happen if NEA Baptist exceeded capacity due to COVID-19.

“If we were truly pushed to our limit, there are a number of things that we could do,” says Lynd.  “We could partner with hospitals in our region, and even with the hospitals on our Baptist system as we have 22 hospitals in 350 mile radius.  We would coordinate where those patients would go and how to treat those patients.  We could also set up temporary hospitals if we exceed capacity, and those conversations are currently taking place.”

Lynd says if there is a lack of ventilators, they can use anesthesia machines and other breathing devices that can be used and be repurposed if that need arises.  I asked him about how worried he was about having the supplies needed to move forward

“Our hospitals are making sure that we are prepared for that and we do have the buying power to get the PPE and the supplies that we need.  So far we are happy about our ability to keep people safe.” 

When asking Lynd about the severity and how real COVID-19 is he says there are very sick patients in ICU that are struggling to breathe and having other significant health issues due to COVID-19.  Lynd says there have been several deaths due to the disease and he encourages everyone to follow the guidelines that are set out about COVID-19.   

That is Sam Lynd with NEA Baptist. To hear her entire interview, you can go to our website at kasu.org/coronavirus and click on the link to this story.  SOC      

Johnathan Reaves is the News Director for KASU Public Radio. As part of an Air Force Family, he moved to Arkansas from Minot, North Dakota in 1986. He was first bitten by the radio bug after he graduated from Gosnell High School in 1992. While working on his undergraduate degree, he worked at KOSE, a small 1,000 watt AM commercial station in Osceola, Arkansas. Upon graduation from Arkansas State University in 1996 with a degree in Radio-Television Broadcast News, he decided that he wanted to stay in radio news. He moved to Stuttgart, Arkansas and worked for East Arkansas Broadcasters as news director and was there for 16 years.