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Washington Regional Implements Phase 2 of COVID-19 Surge Plan and Changes to Visitor Policy

Birch G. Wright, MPA
Chief Operating Officer and Administrator,
Washington Regional Medical System

Due to significant growth in COVID-19 cases and inpatient hospitalizations in our community, Washington Regional has operationalized Phase 2 of our COVID-19 Surge Plan. This allows us to temporarily reassign some of our hospital and clinic team members to assist in areas of most critical need in the hospital. It also allows us to move to a team-based nursing approach where primary nurses have support from secondary nurses for non-specialized tasks. These actions will allow us to expand our capacity, making it possible for us to care for an increased number of COVID and non-COVID patients.

Due to implementation of Phase 2 of our COVID-19 Surge Plan and to safeguard our patients, employees, and community during this surge, we will also make changes to our visitor policy. Effective tomorrow, July 22, we will reduce visitor hours, reduce the number of visitors allowed in most areas of the hospital, and close our cafeteria, coffee shop and gift shop to visitors. The revised visitor policy can be viewed at

It’s important for the community to know this is a serious situation. NWA hospitals have seen a significant increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients over the last 30 days with an exponential increase over the last week. Currently, hospitals in the region are caring for over 90 hospitalized patients, which is a 48% increase in the last week and a 538% increase in the last month. This rate of increase is not sustainable. Along with caring for an influx of COVID-19 patients, our hospitals are also caring for a continued increase of critical care patients. We urge community members to get vaccinated if they have not already, to encourage family members and friends to get vaccinated and to be vigilant in public.