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Arkansas Continued Care Hospital in Jonesboro announced this week that it has doubled its patient bed capacity to 89 to help partner hospitals St. Bernards Medical Center and NEA Baptist Hospital weather an expected influx of coronavirus cases.
ACCH, established in 2007, is a community-focused long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) that specializes in vent-weaning and respiratory therapy. It employs about 85 people and is the only facility of its kind within a 100-mile radius of Jonesboro. The average length of stay at facilities like ACCH is 25 days.
CEO Vincent Gore declined to disclose how much the hospital is spending to increase its bed capacity. He told Arkansas Business that amount is “a moving target.”
“It’s a substantial amount of capital that we spent in order to do some of the infrastructure improvements, and when we also look at the new equipment that we purchased for upstairs and the human capital on top of that,” he said. “It’s definitely a substantial amount of investment for this community, and the high cost is meaningful and was necessary to take care of the community.”
He said the hospital already had room to install a 27-bed COVID-19 unit on its third floor and expected the renovation work for it to be completed on Friday.
ACCH had 44 beds before the expansion. The 18 other new beds could be used by critical care ICU and other patients.
While other area hospitals have furloughed employees because noncritical surgeries are on hiatus, ACCH had hired five new nurses. Ten more job interviews are on its schedule as well, Gore said.
He said the hospital doesn’t have a number in mind as far as new hires; it’s waiting to see how the outbreak progresses and how much manpower will be needed in the future.
Gore added that the hospital appreciates the “tremendous collaboration” it’s had with St. Bernards and NEA Baptist and is pleased to be of service to the community.
“I’ve been a nurse for about 15 years now, and I will tell you this pandemic definitely took us by surprise,” he continued. “So the whole country is frantically trying to figure out how we’re going to keep our community safe and keep our staff safe as well. So we’re in the process of putting our most precious commodity, which is our staff, in harm’s way to protect our community, and I’m blessed to have the team that we have here. I’m blessed to have the support and the leadership to give us the tools and everything to take care of the patients.”
Jonesboro Mayor Harrold Perrin said many communities are exploring options to create or retrofit health care facilities in response to COVID-19.
“The announcement that ACCH has expanded its bed capacity to admit and care for additional ICU patients will provide much needed support for our community as we prepare for the possibility of more positive COVID-19 cases in Jonesboro,” he said.