Miss. EMS providers authorized to care for patients in EDs

EMTs, certified paramedics and advanced emergency medical technicians can help care for patients, acting under medical direction, while not on duty with a licensed EMS agency


Blake Alsup
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo

TUPELO, Miss. — Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and certified paramedics can now care for patients in Mississippi hospitals and emergency rooms under a new health office order issued by the Mississippi State Department of Health on Wednesday.

In an effort to assist with staffing shortages in the state's hospitals, EMTs, certified paramedics and advanced emergency medical technicians can help care for patients, acting under medical direction, while not on duty with a licensed Emergency Medical Services agency. Jim Craig, Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection for the Mississippi State Department of Health, announced the new orders during a press conference.

"That's going to be a real benefit in the requests that we receive from a lot of hospitals, to allow EMTs and medics to extend some of the services into the hospital setting," said Jim Craig, Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection for the Mississippi State Department of Health. "It is another tool in the toolbox to help us try to make health care resources available in the state of Mississippi." (Photo/Getty Images)

"That's going to be a real benefit in the requests that we receive from a lot of hospitals, to allow EMTs and medics to extend some of the services into the hospital setting," Craig said. "It is another tool in the toolbox to help us try to make health care resources available in the state of Mississippi."

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Mississippi is clearly suffering more than it has at any point during the pandemic, and he believes it will get worse before getting better.

"We're seeing higher and higher numbers not only of cases, but also hospitalizations, people in the intensive care unit, life support and like we've seen before, sadly, additional deaths are going to follow," Dobbs said.

As of Aug. 17, there were 1,633 Mississippians hospitalized with COVID-19, 486 in an ICU and 319 on ventilators — the highest levels we've seen yet.

There were only six ICU beds available statewide as of 8 a.m. Wednesday morning with 46 patients waiting to fill those beds, so the number of available ICU beds quickly returned to zero, Craig said.

There are currently 251 Mississippians in emergency rooms waiting on hospital beds, he added.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 system of care order from Dobbs on July 29, which was extended last week, at least 822 patients have been transferred for critical care services by Mississippi MedCom.

As cases continue to increase, so does the demand for testing, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.

"We have heard from some facilities regarding some difficulty with obtaining rapid tests," Byers said.

As a result, an emergency purchase of 300,000 additional rapid COVID-19 tests has been placed by the state, Craig said.

Over the past month, 98% of Mississippi's COVID-19 cases have been among the unvaccinated, along with 89% of hospitalizations and 86% of deaths.

"We know that the vaccines are working reasonably well," Dobbs said. "They're not perfect, but they're working extremely well to slow transmission and to prevent serious illness and death."

More than 71,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in Mississippi last week, and more than 50,000 of those were first doses, Dobbs said — evidence that more Mississippians are choosing to get the vaccine as cases and hospitalizations rise.

"It's getting to where you hear more and more tragic stories as we visit with friends and families and others," Craig said. "COVID, especially with this delta variant, is getting closer and closer to Mississippians because of the high cases, high hospitalizations and unfortunately the increased number of deaths that I think we'll see over the next short amount of time."

"Please do the right thing, not just for you and your family, but for everybody," Craig said. "Get vaccinated."

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(c)2021 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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