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Baptist Health-Van Buren nearing completion on additional COVID-19 beds

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Baptist Health-Van Buren has added 44 of the 74 beds requested by the state to accommodate any additional needs for COVID-19 patients in the region.

Baptist Health-Van Buren has undergone renovations to create up to 74 beds for COVID-19 patients as requested by the state. Currently, there are 44 beds completed with 30 ready to be finalized. 

According to Kim Miller, region president at Baptist Health, in order to complete the renovation at Baptist Health-Van Buren, inpatient care was moved to Baptist Health-Fort Smith.

"This alternate care site was developed for a worst-case scenario in the event of a pandemic surge and hopefully will never be needed," said Miller.

The beds would be leased to the state of Arkansas, and plans are continuing to determine the protocols and staffing.

"We are leveraging our existing resources where possible so this additional capacity can be created in the most effective and efficient manner possible," said Miller.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced in December that the project is $7.4 million and that FEMA will cover 80% of the costs. The project consists of 124 beds in Central Arkansas and Van Buren. In Van Buren, 66 will be regular hospital beds and eight will be ICU beds. 

According to a press release from Baptist Health, the inpatient units in Van Buren remain closed until needed. The Emergency Department, Laboratory, GI, Outpatient Physical Therapy, and Radiology services are still fully functional and ready to take care of patients, the release adds.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there are 351 active cases as of Feb. 7 in Crawford County. The total accumulative number for the county has reached 6,494.