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Statement from Washington Regional COO Birch G. Wright Regarding National Guard Assistance

Northwest Arkansas is in the midst of a prolonged surge in the number of individuals who require hospitalization for COVID-19, and Washington Regional has experienced a steady increase in the number of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 since early May. Last week, we implemented an initial phase of our surge capacity plan and opened a third critical care unit devoted to the care of COVID-19 patients. However, we have never reached our capacity or been concerned that we were about to reach our capacity. Our request for assistance from the National Guard, which we are grateful to Governor Hutchinson for approving, is simply to obtain some support that will permit us to assign nursing staff who have been performing clerical functions to the bedside, which in turn will provide our clinical care nursing staff, who have been tirelessly working for many months, with some much-needed rest.

In addition to the request we have made of the National Guard, we have posted positions for additional staff and asked our community health care partners for individuals with critical care experience to work on an as needed basis in Washington Regional’s critical care units.