'Where are you?': Mississippi hospital CEO asks governor for help with COVID-19

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As of Aug. 12, Mississippi's COVID-19 hospitalization rate ranked fourth highest in the nation, with hospitalizations up 136 percent in the past 14 days. 

Intensive care unit beds are running dry in the state as hospitals' limits are stretched. Lee McCall, CEO of Neshoba County General Hospital in Philadelphia, Miss., called on Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves for assistance in an Aug. 10 tweet: "@tatereeves hospitals and healthcare workers need you to help us. Where are you? We are overwhelmed with the surge of Covid and understaffed to safely care for our patients. Our incredible staff are holding it together but we are all at our breaking point."

In an Aug. 11 tweet, Mr. Reeves said bed capacity isn't the state's biggest challenge, but labor shortages are. The Mississippi State Department of Health estimates 920 healthcare professionals are needed in Mississippi in the immediate term.

"Some hospitals lost staff because they laid off employees that never came back. Some staff left due to administrative decisions (such as mandating vaccines)," Mr. Reeves said. "But the reason for the shortage can be debated in the future … the task at hand is to help backfill these vacancies to protect the integrity of our healthcare system."

The Mississippi State Department of Health has added ICU capacity and beds at Veterans Affairs hospitals in light of the surge, and has plans to open a field hospital.

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