Mississippi hospital forced to transfer patients because beds are filled with COVID patients

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — A Mid-South hospital is so packed with COVID patients they have had to transfer patients elsewhere.

Panola Medical Center serves five counties and has taken a hit with an increase in hospitalizations.

Hospital beds at the facility have been so full they’ve had to transfer some patients down the road.

That “down the road” almost wound up being six and a half hours away.

“Just the other day, the closest bed we could find was in Pensacola, Florida, and at the last second, we got a bed in Columbus, Mississippi,” said Panola Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Chris Ware. “But you know that was going to be an awful experience for a patient and family to have to go to Pensacola, Florida, to find a critical care bed.”

Ware said the recent spike in COVID hospitalizations in Mississippi has hospital workers making as many as 40 calls to find an open bed.

“We are busy down here,” Ware said. “We have got a 17-bed med surge unit. Fifteen beds are full. Eight or nine are COVID patients. They are constantly coming into our ER. We have had to hold several in our ER to try to find beds for them.”

Panola County resident Alexis Fondren said knowing the hospital beds have been at or near capacity concerns her.

“This is a small town. It is filled with the virus. It just scares me,” Fondren said.

“Oh, yeah, any time your capacity is full, it should concern everyone,” said Panola County’s Sherman Kuykendall.

Ware told FOX13 it’s not just the available number of beds that have been affected by COVID.

“We have several nurses and providers who have COVID, and they are trying to work through it. You know the five-day deal — some are not feeling the effects of COVID and can come back to work, but some are really sick, so it’s just putting a strain on the staff,” Ware said.