Area hospitals may see an influx in patients to help rural counties

WATCH: Hospital capacity in Shelby, Tipton, Crittenden and DeSoto counties is in the red

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hospitals across the Mid-South continue to feel the weight of rising COVID-19 cases and now they’re making changes.

Jackson-Madison County General Hospital is no longer accepting hospital transfers. That puts more pressure on hospitals in Shelby County.

“If healthcare is not available in other locations, certainly people will come here,” said Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph.

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It’s another strain on hospital resources in Shelby County as a hospital up the road in Jackson reaches its limits.

“65 percent of our patient volume comes from outside of Madison County,” West Tennessee Healthcare President and CEO James Ross told FOX13.

Ross heads the company that owns Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. The hospital announced it will no longer accept hospital transfers because of a rise in COVID-19 patients. On average healthcare leaders say they conduct up to 60 ambulance transfers from outside Madison County a day.

“We’re not even able to transfer from our own facilities,” said Ross.

Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said he foresees this move forcing Shelby County hospitals to pick up the slack for rural counties around the region.

“When people come here certainly that will impact our capacity and capability of providing service,” said Randolph.

The hospital capacity in the Memphis metro area, which includes Shelby, Tipton, Crittenden and DeSoto counties, is in the red. As of Wednesday evening, 91 percent of hospital beds were filled. The strain hospitals are feeling around the Mid-South is another reason Dr. Randolph said he believes neighboring counties need a mask mandate.

“Shelby County can’t just have a mask mandate and everyone around us not have it. It limits the effectiveness of it. We all need to be on one accord,” said Randolph.

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