NARMC’s Vince Leist Warns Of Growing Virus Numbers

From Harrison Daily Times

The North Arkansas Regional Medical Center Board of Directors met Tuesday via Zoom and heard from NARMC president/CEO Vince Leist about the COVID-19 situation.

“Our community is still not recognizing this as a pandemic,” Leist said. “We are headed for higher numbers.” Leist told board members that the hospital in Jonesboro has 133 staff members who have tested positive. They are a larger hospital with 2,700 staff members. “But that’s still a lot who have contracted the virus.”

Leist assured the board the staff is working tirelessly to keep the community safe. “Our doors are still closed to visitors, but we are encouraging people to schedule their routine health maintenance appointments.”

Leist showed some of the PowerPoint slides he recently shared with the Boone County Quorum Court. “Wearing a mast means respect,” was one of them. He then shared that the CDC has published some new numbers about how long the virus can linger. “The state has seen 1,833 deaths and what is alarming is the age is getting younger of those dying from the virus.” he said.

At the time of his report, 32 deaths had been reported in Boone County with 104 active cases. Carroll County has reported 15 deaths and 80 active. Newton County showed 17 deaths and 20 active cases.

“We’ve had 19 deaths due to COVID at NARMC,” he said. “We’ve tested 5,534 and 461 have returned positive. At the NARMC Medical Plaza we are testing people with symptoms and pre-operative patients.”

Leist shared an article from the Kansas City Star that stated eight Kansas City, Missouri, hospitals had to refuse ambulances the night of Oct. 14 because they hit capacity.

“Some hospitals are also closing elective surgeries again, but our hospital staff members are a tough bunch, and we are doing our best to keep working with elective procedures and regular health assessments,” he said.

“Positive cases are skyrocketing — even in our pre-operative patients. When we first began testing surgery patients in September, the number of those who were asymptomatic were one-half of 1%,” Leist said. “In October the patients testing positive before surgery were 4.28%.”

Speaking of the agenda, Leist said, “Old and new business — it’s still all about COVID-19.”

Leist mentioned there is a shortage of the size small of the N95 masks, but all other supplies were doing well. The pharmacy reported a good supply of Remdesivir. “We’ve been contacting patients for convalescent plasma and will host a blood drive for the community very soon.”

Dr. Ken Collins reported for the clinics to the board.

“With the holidays coming up, families are having to make difficult decisions,” Collins said. “Sometimes it falls on the community doctor to make these decisions for the patient. I think it will be a long winter and six months before we see significant data showing improvement.”

Progress is being made at the Medical Plaza that will become the location for Cox Health. “We have another meeting with them on Friday and things will be progressing quickly very soon,” Leist said.


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